In Minnesota, we Work for Water. For the next several years, the Freshwater Society will use the Work For Water theme to inspire Minnesotans to take action to value, conserve and protect our lakes and rivers.
Water is a challenging, complex issue. An estimated 40 percent of Minnesota’s waters are polluted, and only about 20 percent of our lakes and rivers have been fully tested. By the end of summer, some lakes and rivers are pea-green and stink like fish that have overstayed their welcome. The upper third of Lake Pepin is filling in with sediments flowing from the Minnesota River Valley. Beaches close due to unhealthy levels of bacteria.
The problems facing Minnesota’s waters, and those of us who use those waters, are daunting. Our statewide problems pale in comparison to those faced by other states, and other nations. It’s tempting to leave solutions to experts.
While it’s essential to have experts devoted to finding solutions to water quality challenges, they can’t “fix” water alone. If you use water, you can protect water. Everyone in the state of Minnesota affects water quality with the things we do each day. We build cabins on our lakeshores. We wash our cars, water our lawns, fertilize landscaping. Our trees drop their leaves. Our grass clippings get blown into the streets. Everything each of us does has some sort of impact on water, which means we can all be part of the solution.
Though water challenges are complex, we don’t have to wait until every last detail is known about the problem before we act to protect our water. We know enough to begin working for solutions. We know urban runoff contributes pollutants to our lakes and rivers, so let’s get started with that.
The Freshwater Society and the Friends of the Minnesota Valley offer Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality to help you keep organic pollutants out of the water. The idea behind Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality is simple and cost-effective: locally-led groups of volunteers, rake, sweep, bag and remove loose dirt and leaves blocking sewer grates on city streets. The materials are then composted to prevent pollutants such as phosphorus from entering lakes, rivers and streams.
Your group or organization will be able to prevent thousands of pounds of algae in the lakes, rivers and streams near your home.
Everything you do has an impact on water, and you can make that impact a positive one. The Freshwater Society has put together a Toolkit to help you Work for Water, by organizing a Community Clean-Up for Water Quality in your neighborhood.
We know enough to begin, and you are part of the solution.
(This post was updated on Aug. 2, 2013)