Land & Water Connections


March & April 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.



If it’s on land, chances are it will end up in our lakes, rivers, streams and maybe even groundwater. Learn more about how our choices on land impact our waters.

Stormwater Runoff
What is a watershed?
Where does water pollution come from?
Community Clean-ups for Water Quality


“Poisoned Waters” Producer Speaks at Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources

More than three decades after the Clean Water Act was supposed to make America’s waters clean enough for swimming and fishing again, major waterways across the country are still in perilous condition. Runoff from industry, agriculture and massive suburban development is flowing into waters from Chesapeake Bay to the Mississippi River to Puget Sound. Read more. Check out the Frontline documentary. If you attended the event, please take this short survey to help us improve future events!




Tips for Protecting Water – Featured on KARE 11


Watch the newest Spring Water Minute “Water Waste”, a series featuring seasonal water facts during 2010 – The Year of Water and find resources to learn more about what you can do!

Stormwater Problems & Prevention Featured on KARE 11

Watch the first Spring Water Minute. Also, watch the Simply Science segment about stormwater.

Minnesota Department of Health is seeking participants for the Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern Program

Minnesota Department of Health staff are seeking stakeholders and interested persons to participate in the Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern program, funded by the Clean Water Fund.





2010 – The Year of Water is featured in the March-April Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine along with an article on water conservation. Click here to view the article or to find more tips.

Learn More: Land & Water Connections



Stormwater Runoff


When water in the form of rain and snow falls on land, it can evaporate, infiltrate, or run off the land to a lake, stream or wetland. In areas with natural vegetation such as forests and prairies, most rainfall infiltrates into the ground where it is used by plants and trees to grow or it is stored as ground water. When buildings, roads, and other impervious surfaces cover the land water cannot seep into the ground, causing water to run off to a storm drains, or a nearby pond, wetland or stream. Water flowing over land carries pollutants including soil, lawn and farm chemicals, leaves, oil and gasoline, road salt, and trash to storm drains which often empty directly to lakes or streams. Thus, all activities in our yards, streets, agricultural lands, etc. directly affect water quality in nearby and far away lakes and streams.

The more impervious surfaces there are in an area (such as cities), the more stormwater runs off the landscape. This can be a significant amount of water. Often this water “cleans” the land it passes over by picking up and carrying an array of pollutants. The most common pollutants of our lakes and streams are soil, nutrients, bacteria, and chemicals found in pesticides and road salt.

What is a watershed?


A watershed is a geographic area consisting of all the land that water flows across on its way to a particular body of water. All rain that falls on the land in a particular watershed goes to the same streams and lakes. Three major watersheds originate in the state of Minnesota: water from the northern part of the state flows east to the Atlantic Ocean through Lake Superior or north to Hudson Bay in Canada through the Red River of the North and the Rainy River. Water from the southern part of the state flows to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. The extreme southwestern tip of the state is part of the Missouri River Watershed. Within the three major watersheds are eight smaller watershed basins.

Where does water pollution come from?


Lakes, streams and wetlands receive stormwater runoff carrying multiple pollutants. These pollutants come from various types of land uses and activities. The major contributors of polluted stormwater runoff are urban runoff, agricultural runoff, shoreland runoff and septic system runoff. Converting natural landscapes such as forests and prairies to suburban and urban land is also a major source of this diffuse pollution known as nonpoint source pollution.

Urban areas contribute polluted runoff to lakes and streams from paved driveways, roads, buildings and other impervious surfaces. Lawns are also responsible for polluted stormwater runoff because only about 50% of the rain that falls on lawns infiltrates into the soil and runoff from lawns often carries fertilizers and pesticides.

Stormwater and snowmelt runoff on cultivated croplands and pastures contribute soil, bacteria, and nutrients to local lakes and streams. Agricultural practices that increase soil erosion and fertilizer runoff include conventional tillage practices that leave little crop residue, cultivation of areas along lakes and streams leaving no buffer area, and usage of high amounts of fertilizer on cultivated land.

The most common shoreland practice that affects lake and stream water quality is the conversion of native plants and trees to manicured lawn along the shoreline. Shorelines provide critical ecological services such as trapping pollutants before they enter the water, mitigating floods, and providing critical habitat for breeding and raising young for many of Minnesota’s most beloved plants and animals.

Septic systems are small-scale sewage treatment systems that treat wastewater. The average household in Minnesota produces an average of 80,000 gallons of wastewater a year. Septic systems that are not maintained or are not functioning properly contribute nitrate and bacteria to surface waters. Of the 500,000 septic systems in use, it is estimated that about 40% failed to meet state standards in 2007. In the Minnesota River basin, an estimated 80% of septic systems do not conform to standards.

Get Involved: Year of Water Projects

Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality


Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality were held this spring!

White Bear Lake and the Como Neighbor Network hosted clean-ups in their areas.

Plan to host a Clean-Up for Water Quality in your community this fall. Leaves and organic debris from streets and sidewalks contain phosphorus. Phosphorus is the leading and most serious source of pollution for rivers and lakes causing excessive growth of aquatic plants and eutrophication.

The Freshwater Society is partnering with the Friends of the Minnesota Valley and local organizations to initiate Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality to reduce the phosphorus levels in our lakes and rivers.

Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality are hands-on water quality improvement projects that can be held in your area. All it takes are volunteers, bags and some tools! We are providing a free Community Toolkit and DVD with materials and instructions for implementing a Clean-Up. View the seven minute video on why Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality are important and view a fact sheet about the program. For the full toolkit please contact Joan Nephew at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and find out how your group can get started planning your Community Clean-Up for Water Quality today!

Resources: Find out More

Read more about what you can do to protect water quality.

Click here to learn more about a Recent Survey done on Water Issues.

Find resources about stormwater runoff and how to manage it on your property.

Register for our E-Newsletter and stay informed about new programs and resources.

Partner Spotlight: What’s Happening Around the State

logoMetro WaterShed Partners
Clean Water MN Media Campaign

Metro WaterShed Partners has developed an innovative website with the slogan Minnesota Water: Let’s keep it clean. This group is made up of over fifty diverse water organizations all working towards the common goal of protecting Minnesota waters. The Clean Water Minnesota website clearly lays out specific tips and includes interactive resources for people to learn from. Whether you are a concerned citizen or business owner, a teacher, student, or even a storm water educator this website has what you need! The Clean Water Minnesota Media Campaign is being launched once again this year using various outlets to communicate the need to protect our waters here in Minnesota.

Trevor Russell, Media Campaign Coordinator, explains that, “The campaign works because it brings members together to create educational programs and materials that would be challenging for individual communities to develop on their own. Our TV PSAs, for example, are something few cities could afford to produce. But by bringing many cities and watershed organizations together under one roof, our campaign can achieve excellent educational outcomes that benefit the whole state.” The Media activities for this year will be channeled through billboards, MN Public Radio, television PSA’s including Cable and Channel 45 as well as sporting events through Minnesota Twins Radio and St. Paul Saints TV. Trevor has been a key player in the planning of these strategic forms of getting the word out about keeping our water clean for 2010 – The Year of Water and beyond.

Look for this summer’s billboards throughout the Twin cities metro area featuring three different “streets connect to streams” stormwater pollution prevention messages about pet waste, car washing and yard care. Starting this June, it is estimated that these clean water messages will make over 7 million impressions in 2010. The campaign will also be featured during the MN Twins Baseball radio with several reminders to practice water friendly lawn care this spring.

Also, look for the thirty-second stormwater pollution prevention PSAs televised on Cable this fall, Channel 45 and during all forty-eight Saint Paul Saints games this summer. You can check out the ads on the Clean Water Minnesota website!

Water Events:  Learn More


Women and Water Rights: Rivers of Regeneration Exhibition

Feb. 23 – March 25, 2010

Katherine E. Nash Gallery

University of Minnesota

This event was a great success. More information about this issue can be found at


Agriculture and Water Summit 2010: Keeping Water on the Land for Conservation and Production

The Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League of America — in partnership with the Freshwater Society — has scheduled  the 2010 Wetlands Summit, Agriculture and Water Summit 2010: Keeping Water on the Land for Conservation and Production.

freshwatersociety logo.300

About 200 people – environmentalists and farmers – took part in an all-day conference on agriculture and water quality sponsored by the Izaak Walton League in partnership with the Freshwater Society.

The March 27 conference was aimed at trying to reach some common understanding of the contentious issue of pollution caused by agricultural production, especially farm drainage.

Many of the participants and attendees said they felt the conference helped shed some light on an issue that more often generates only heated debate.

The conference benefited from a number of highly qualified water experts. Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, delivered a thought-provoking keynote speech on “The Other Inconvenient Truth,” the collision the world faces between a population that is growing at 75 million people per year and agricultural production practices that already are over-using and polluting water.

Click here to read an article about the conference written by Angela Schnaubelt for the Twin Cities Water Examiner. To view the agenda, click here.

Protecting Our Water – Protecting Our Health
Urban Water and Land Use
April 6, 2010
6:30-9:30 p.m.
Lake Harriet United Methodist Church

forum_april_10The evening opened with a ceremony and celebration of water by Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc of Minnesota ( to remind us of water’s importance to our lives and to the health of our environment. Lois Eberhart, City of Minneapolis Water Resources Director, described the City’s land use and management programs to protect water resources. Representative Jean Wagenius discussed the elements of the Clean Water Legacy Amendment and evaluated the effectiveness of state laws designed to protect our precious water resources.

Sponsored by: League of Women Voters Minneapolis, Freshwater Society, Clean Water Action, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Healthy Legacy Coalition, League of Women Voters Minnesota, Lake Harriet Methodist Church, Mayflower Congregational Earthwise Committee, Women’s Environmental Institute.

(Updated Aug. 14, 2013)

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