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April 19 memorial will celebrate Dick Gray’s passion, vision

Dick Gray

Dick Gray

A memorial service for Dick Gray, a passionate advocate for water and the environment, will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at the Gray Freshwater Center in Navarre.

Mr. Gray, who died March 5 at age 95, was the lead founder of the Freshwater Society and he 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, link to Mr. Gray’s account of the founding of the Freshwater Society, and view tributes from friends Robert Elde and Jack Pichotta.

Mr. Gray’s family has invited friends and colleagues to make memorials in his name to the Freshwater Society.



Read all about it;
view our newsletter

Our latest newsletter has a lot of news worth reading. A column by Steve Woods compares DNR efforts on groundwater to Bogie and Hepburn in African Queen. There is a preview of our Ice OUT/Loon IN party and fun-raiser, a q-and-a on water with new board member Julie Blackburn, an update on the Master Water Stewards and an article about the new Farm Bill’s conservation compliance provision. Download a PDF.

Save the date: Sept. 18
A fascinating lecture

You can’t see groundwater when it is in the ground. But you can measure it. And, it turns out, you can even measure it from outer space.

Jay Famiglietti

Jay Famiglietti

Don’t miss a fascinating lecture Sept. 18 by Dr. Jay Famiglietti, who has led research exploring declines in Earth’s stores of groundwater measured over the last decade by an orbiting NASA satellite.

The satellite sensing, known as the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment or GRACE, detects changes in the mass of water entering or leaving a region on the Earth’s surface. And the news is not good.

 “Results point to the harsh reality that groundwater in most of the world’s major aquifers — in India, the Middle East, China, and even in the High Plains and Central Valley aquifers in the United States — is being rapidly depleted, likely never to be replaced” Dr. Famiglietti says. “The global pattern of groundwater depletion also raises important concerns about the potential for heightened conflict, and about climate, water, food and economic security.”

The lecture, sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences, is free and open to the public. It will be delivered at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, in the Student Center of the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

Dr. Famiglietti is a hydrologist and professor of Earth System Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. Learn more about the lecture and Dr. Famiglietti. 


Lakes & rivers conference
set May 1-2 in Brainerd

State of Water logoDo you like lakes and rivers? Join us May 1-2 in Brainerd for the State of Water Conference.

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.

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.