Health of Our Waters


January & February Theme

Why Designate a Year of Water?The Freshwater Society and partners want to raise the awareness among citizens about our water resources and how we can protect them in our everyday lives. We are providing education resources as well as activities for taking action to protect our lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and groundwater. From snow and ice to lakes and rivers, we will be covering six water topics in twelve months! Check back here frequently as we will be posting new information all year long.


Water is essential for life. The abundance of lakes, rivers and groundwater in Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” is part of our natural heritage. Water defines life and work in Minnesota through fishing, swimming, boating and relaxing by the lake. Our water resources, especially groundwater, also provide us with clean drinking water.

But despite the wealth of our water resources, we cannot presume that our access to unspoiled water is sustainable into the future. We know our streams and lakes are contaminated by runoff from sources near and far. Some areas of the state currently do not have enough water and are looking outside of the state to meet their needs. Groundwater supplies in parts of the state that are susceptible to contamination from the land by nitrogen fertilizers and industrial chemicals also threaten the health of our lakes and streams.

Polluted waters not only endanger our health and the health of the environment, but also threaten the recreational opportunities that are a heritage of all Minnesotans and the cornerstone of a $11 billion annual tourism industry. In public opinion polls, Minnesotans consistently rank protecting surface waters as their top environmental priority and there is much to do in this regard.


Learn more about our January/February Theme:

Get Involved: Year of Water Projects
Resources: Find out More
Partner Spotlight: What’s Happening Around the State
Water Events: Learn More


Get Involved: Year of Water Projects


Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources

A key element of 2010 – The Year of Water is an engaging speaker series that will explore current topics to attract diverse audiences and further public policy on water issues. This series will continue FWS’s commitment to tackle tough issues and elicit cutting edge ideas on the future of water resources. We are gathering well known national and regional speakers to discuss the following water issues: water resource issues, pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds in water, climate change impacts on our water resources, nonpoint source pollution and water quality. The series will provide a forum for sharing knowledge and solutions to further the protection and restoration of our lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater.

Robert Glennon Presentation:


glennon_smallerForget cloud seeding. Forget building more dams. Forget piping Great Lakes water to the Southwest. Figure out how to save most of the 6 billion or so gallons of drinking water-quality water that Americans flush down their toilets each day. And, most important of all, put a price on water that reflects its importance and will persuade individuals and businesses to buy and sell the right to use water.

That was the message author Robert Glennon delivered to about 250 people who attended his lecture Feb. 22 at the University of Minnesota.

Glennon, whose most recent book is Unquenchable: America’s Water crisis and What to Do About It, delivered a lecture sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University’s College of Biological Sciences.

His talk was the first in what will be a four-part lecture series – the Moos Family Speaker Series – that is part of 2010 – The Year of Water, a yearlong celebration of water organized by the Freshwater Society.

To view a video of Glennon’s presentation, click here. To read an interview with Glennon from the Freshwater newsletter, click here. To view a panel discussion featuring Glennon and three Minnesota water experts, click here. To view a KARE TV interview with Glennon, click here. And to read a Minnesota Daily report on his lecture, click here.

Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality

Community Clean-ups for Water Quality are locally organized projects that engage communities in organizing clean-up activities to reduce phosphorus levels in rivers and lakes. Leaves and other organic debris contain phosphorus, a leading  source of pollution of rivers and lakes and a cause of excessive growth of aquatic plants and eutrophication. View our brochure about the program.


Attend a Clean-Ups for Water Quality Information & Training Session later in the summer to learn how to implement this hands-on water quality improvement project in your area. All it takes are volunteers, bags and some tools! We will be providing a free Community Toolkit and DVD with materials and instructions for implementing a Clean-Up. Two Training Sessions were held in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area and in Waite Park. View materials from the sessions.

For the full toolkit please contact Joan Nephew at and find out how your group can get started planning your Community Clean-Up for Water Quality today!

 (Updated Aug. 14, 2013)


Resources: Find out More

The Freshwater Society has produced numerous briefing papers related to the Health of our Waters:


Partner Spotlight: What’s Happening Around the State

cmwea_logo_smallerCentral Minnesota Water Education Alliance
Make the Water Connection Ad Contest

Did you know that producing plastic bottles for American consumption requires more than 17 million barrels of oil? Or that planting a tree can not only improve air quality but water quality? These facts and others are presented in the winning videos for the 2009 “Make the Water Connection” television ad campaign.

For the past three years, the Central Minnesota Water Education Alliance (CMWEA) has sponsored a competition for high-school students to produce a 30 second television ad to promote ways everyone can protect water. The students can pick one of the Top Ten Water Protection Tips that the group writes every year to base their video on. Click on the photos below to view the videos.


Shane Lund, Utilities Water Qualities Specialist for the City of St. Cloud and CMWEA member, said they wanted to get high school students involved in their public education mission because they might have a better way of reaching out to the public with their creativity.

“Our whole theme, our whole goal of all of our campaigns is to provide folks with very simple things that they can do. We’re always looking for something active, we’re always looking for something positive,” Lund said. “With everything we do we’re trying to give folks something they can actually do, something they can change or something they can do better.”

CMWEA sprang out of a requirement of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which said in order for a group to obtain a permit from them the group had to have a public education component.

Lund said since because none of the stormwater groups had a background in education, groups from St. Cloud, Sartell, Waite Park, St. Joseph, Stearns County and numerous other townships began to meet once a month.

“We started out as basically a support group,” Lund said.

While their initial intention was to keep from duplicating the efforts around the St. Cloud area, the groups soon realized that by pooling their resources and working together they could get more accomplished than if they worked as individual organizations. Currently, 18 organizations are part of CMWEA.

While brainstorming ways to fulfill the education component and reach out to the community, the group, along with Thelen Advertising, came up with the “Make the Water Connection” television ad campaign.

Once the students enter the contest, the St. Cloud local cable provider, Charter Media, sends someone out into the schools to help the students with the editing and end production of the advertisements.

Three winners are then chosen and their ads are played on Charter cable public access channel and put on the CMWEA website. The winners also receive $700 for their school and a $300 Gander Mountain gift card.

Lund says the campaign has been one of CMWEA’s most successful outreach endeavors, with 31 entries in 2009.

“We’ve had a really good response with that,” Lund said. “There is a lot of excitement around the contest and we see a lot of website hits right after the winners are announced.”

For more information on CMWEA or to see the past winners of the “Make the Water Connection” Contest, go to

Water Events:  Learn More


women_and_water_rights_logo Women and Water Rights: Rivers of Regeneration Exhibition

Feb. 23 – March 25, 2010

Katherine E. Nash Gallery

University of Minnesota


Each year, more than 2.2 million people die from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

Most of these deaths occur in children under the age of 5.

To bring awareness to these issues, and to demonstrate the power of women in improving conditions worldwide, local artist Liz Dodson spearheaded the “Women and Water Rights: Rivers of Regeneration” exhibition.

The exhibit, which runs Feb. 23 through March 25 at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Regis Center for Art, 405 21st Ave. S., Minneapolis, blends art, workshops and education to bring attention to the integral role women play in creating social and economic change in attitudes toward clean water. The exhibition will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Dodson, who had used water as a theme in her artwork for years, first became involved in water rights issues three years ago after joining the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and working with its art committee.

“Having had this interest previously in my own artwork, then having it as this social-political issue that they were discussing in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom sort of bonded these two reasons that I was deeply interested in it,” Dodson said.

The exhibit brings together local and international artists to raise awareness of the different water needs in different parts of the world.

Juried art, dancers and musicians will be part of the month-long exhibit. The WWR exhibit will conclude with a 3-day speaker event featuring Sandy Spieler, founder of the Minneapolis performing arts group Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre, Gemma Bulos, founder of the non-profit A Single Drop for Safe Water and Dr. Vandana Shiva, an international water-rights scientist and environmentalist.

In order to keep the issues presented by the WWR alive, the art will then become part of a traveling exhibition through 2012. Currently, the artwork has confirmed stops in Boston; Chicago; Missoula, MT; Portland, OR; St. Louis; San Francisco; Los Angeles; New York; India; Dubai and Japan.

Dodson said that art has the responsibility to help society deal with conflicts and she hopes this event will open up a dialogue about water-rights issues.

“I would like people to internalize it and seriously look at their own lifestyle, and see what they can do,” Dodson said.

The Freshwater Society is providing water resource information and handouts at the exhibition.

Information about the event can be found at


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