From the desk of Gene Merriam

Welcome to 2010 – The Year of Water.

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This yearlong celebration of water that the Freshwater Society is beginning represents the very core of our mission: Educating and inspiring people to value, conserve and protect water resources.

The year’s activities are all aimed at bringing about a cultural shift in the way we think about water and the value we attach to it.

With the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Science, we are sponsoring some important lectures on topics such as climate change, endocrine disruptors and the pollution of lakes and rivers from many diffuse sources.

With schools around the state, we hope to open the eyes of elementary students and their parents to the vast amounts of water we all use – and sometimes waste – in our homes.

More than 18 months ago, the Guardianship Council, eight distinguished Minnesotans who advised the Freshwater Society, investigated the quality and quantity of all our water resources.

The council urged the Freshwater Board of Directors to focus on two main goals: Ensuring the sustainability of groundwater, and protecting and cleaning up surface waters threatened by pollution from both urban and agricultural sources. The council also recommended that Freshwater designate 2010 for special activities that would “stress the singular importance of water to our lives and our economy.”

The Freshwater board, enthusiastically adopted all the council’s recommendations. For more than a year, Cherie Wagner of our staff has planned the activities and recruited organizations throughout Minnesota to join in sponsoring them. I hope many more community groups will join the effort.

But, while we are focused on this special effort, Freshwater is not neglecting other work supporting our mission.

On Feb. 3, we will host our ninth annual conference on road salt and chloride pollution. In cooperation with the University of Minnesota and state and federal agencies, we are about to release a guide to groundwater sustainability planning. We are helping the Izaak Walton League plan and organize a March conference on agricultural drainage. In May, we will hold our sixth annual water-themed art contest for high school students.

And the Freshwater Society is helping with a major effort, commissioned by the Legislature, in which the Water Resources Center is drafting a 25-year framework to “protect, conserve and enhance the quantity and quality of the state’s groundwater and surface water.”  Freshwater Executive Director Joan Nephew and I serve on separate advisory bodies for the process.

So please participate in the 2010 events. And please join us, as well, in all these other important efforts to value, conserve and protect water.

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