While lakes, large and small, across Minnesota are frozen and loons are still enjoying their winter holiday feeding on fish in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it is hard to imagine jumping off a dock into a lake or canoeing around the Boundary Waters. But there are people who know how to enjoy our water resources in winter, whether it is pulling a walleye out of a hole in the ice or cross-country skiing across a frozen lake.
Turning on the tap for a clean glass of water is another part of the water story. But what will the condition of our lakes be when the loons return looking for places to build nests? What will the fishery be like two generations from now, and what will happen when 1 million more Minnesotans turn on their taps in 2030?
Last year, the Freshwater Society convened an eight-member Guardianship Council to explore Minnesota’s critical water issues. This group decided that the Society could make a big difference by dedicating a whole year to recognizing the importance of water in our lives and discovering ways to protect this precious resource. Thus, the idea for the 2010 Year of Water was born.
Jack Pichotta, founder of Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center and a career environmental educator, describes why the Council decided on a dedicated year of water: “It’s not uncommon for Minnesota to dedicate a day or event in recognition of conditions or individuals that have positively influenced quality of life outcomes. Making 2010 Minnesota’s Year of Water will elevate awareness and concern to a level that should then become a standard. Water is essential not only to our quality of life, but to life itself. It’s pretty simple: Without water there is no life. Everyone should care.”
The Year of Water will make a splash by raising the awareness of citizens about water resource issues, inspiring behavior changes that will protect and sustain our water resources, creating long-lasting partnerships and collaboration among water resource organizations and communities in on-going stewardship activities, and celebrating water as a valuable natural resource that is essential to life.
The scope of the Year of Water is broad and will serve to educate Minnesotans statewide about stewardship activities for healthy water resources now and for generations to come. The year will also serve to form greater partnerships between individuals and organizations that are working to protect and conserve our water resources.
The Year of Water will celebrate our diverse water resources in the state from gleaming northern lakes, to the bubbling headwaters of the Mississippi River, to ground water that flows directly from springs in the southeastern part of the state.
The Year of Water will also highlight successful initiatives in water resource protection and how citizens and community groups as well as businesses and schools can get involved.