Freshwater founder Dick Gray was passionate water advocate
Mr. Gray’s family has invited friends and colleagues to make memorials in his name to the Freshwater Society.Memorials
He was 95 years old and remained active in the Society as a board member until his death.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in petroleum geology and engineering from the University of Minnesota, served as a naval officer in World War II and founded a manufacturing company, Zero-Max Industries. He later was a board member and president of the IDS Mutual Fund Group.
Mr. Gray lived on Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Creek. His fascination with water and his commitment to preserving it led him to regularly conduct water quality tests in a laboratory he had set up in his home.
One winter, while drilling a hole in the lake’s ice, he discovered a red algal bloom. Unable to find a resource to accurately identify the algae, he and others – notably the late Hilbert Hill and Richard Caldecott – set out to raise private funding for research on fresh water.
With the encouragement of former University of Minnesota President Malcolm Moos, they established a non-profit foundation in 1968 and eventually raised $4 million, the equivalent of nearly $27 million in today’s dollars. They built a state-of-the-art research lab at Navarre on the shore of Lake Minnetonka and then donated the lab to the university. Read more
Lakes & rivers conference
set May 1-2 in Brainerd
The 2014 State of Water Conference is an opportunity for citizens committed to improving and protecting water resources to network, connect with resource professionals from around the state, gain technical insights, and find opportunities to engage in water resource protection.
It will be held at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd May 1 and 2. This year’s conference will feature speakers such as Darby Nelson, author of the book For Love of Lakes, and Dr. Peter Sorenson, the head researcher at the new Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota.
Previously sponsored by Minnesota Waters, the conference has been re-organized through a partnership between the University of Minnesota Extension, Conservation Minnesota, the Freshwater Society, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Board of Water and Soil Resources. Learn more and register to attend. View the conference schedule.
Miss the fracking lecture?
View it here on video
If you had to miss our Jan. 30 lecture on fracking and water quality, you missed a wonderful educational opportunity. But… You can still catch the presentation on video.
About 180 people heard Dr. Robert Jackson, an environmental scientist from Stanford and Duke universities, talk about hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas — fracking — and its real and potential impacts on drinking water in nearby wells, on the danger of surface water contamination from the waste water, and on air pollution.
Are Minnesotans over-using groundwater in ways that could leave us short of water – for human uses and for the environment – in the future? The short answer to that question is: Yes, in some places across the state.
A Freshwater Society report issued in April 2013 estimated that total reported groundwater pumping increased by about 2.8 billion gallons per year from 1988 through 2011. That adds up to a 31 percent increase over that period. By comparison, the state’s population increased 24 percent in the same period.
Agricultural irrigation, the second-biggest use of groundwater and the fastest-growing use by far, increased an estimated 73 percent during those years. Pumping by city water systems, the biggest single use, increased an estimated 33 percent.
The Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Metropolitan Council’s top water planner warn that current pumping levels are unsustainable, or close to becoming unsustainable, in some areas.
Read more about the report and what people said about it.
Test your knowledge
of environmental trivia
What did the release of Zero Dark Thirty and comprehensive changes in Minnesota’s water planning statutes have in common?
The answer is: They both happened in 2012.
And what about the collapse of the I-35 bridge and the passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment?
Or John Glenn’s orbit of the Earth and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring?
Check out a surprising mix of cinema, popular culture and Minnesota and federal environmental law. Steve Woods, Freshwater’s executive director, created it several years ago for a class he taught.
New DNR report outlines
sustainability wish list
What would it take for Minnesota officials to do a significantly better job of assuring our groundwater is used sustainably and protected for future generations?
To do that, the Department of Natural Resources says in a new report, the Legislature should:
- Require many owners of high-capacity wells to install new tamper-proof meters to accurately record the more than 200 billion gallons of groundwater they pump each year.
- Give the DNR authority monitor those meters to ensure well owners accurately report their water use and pay required fees.
- Allow the DNR to impose civil fines, rather than seeking criminal prosecution, against well owners who fail to seek permits.
The DNR’s recommendations for law changes are include in a Jan. 15 report to the Legislature. Many of the law and policy changes closely parallel recommendations that the Freshwater Society made in a special report on groundwater sustainability last year.
Read a fuller account of the DNR’s report, including an update on the agency’s success in tracking down unpermitted irrigation pumping.
Take our water quiz
Are you a groundwater expert? Do you know all there is to know about wetlands, lakes and rivers? Are you up on pollution and invasive species?
And do you know your beer jingles?
Step right up, and see how good you really are. Take our water quiz.
Master Water Stewards
View a new video on the Master Water Stewards program, a partnership of Freshwater and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Read a Star Tribune article about the program. Learn more about the program, including how you can volunteer to join it.
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