Partnering to protect our water
All of the water our planet will ever have is here right now. Regardless of form – ice, river, cloud, aquifer – it is all here today. There is no practical way to manufacture additional water.
If we want to make sure that our children and grandchildren have access to the same water resources we have today, we must work together as good stewards of this resource.
The Council continues to do an outstanding job treating wastewater to high environmental standards at very competitive rates. But challenges to water quality and supply are on our doorstep:
Increased demand on groundwater due to population growth
Preparing for the unknown impacts of climate change
Replacing and repairing aging sewer infrastructure
Maintaining excellent service at a low cost
To meet these challenges, we are working with our many partners on a “One Water” approach for the future. This approach is reflected in the new mission of our Environmental Services (ES) division: to provide wastewater services and integrated planning to ensure sustainable water quality and water supply for the region.
Let me be clear: we are not interested in taking over the business of supplying water. But we can be a valuable partner by providing good technical information and bringing partners together to solve water supply problems.
Some practical implications of the One Water approach:
We’re supporting a collaborative multiyear study of groundwater and surface water interactions in the North and East Metro, as well as studies of potential groundwater recharge and stormwater reuse in different parts of the region.
Our East Bethel Water Reclamation Facility is taking purified wastewater and returning it into the ground to recharge local groundwater.
We’re capturing stormwater runoff along the METRO Green Line light rail and letting it recharge groundwater, irrigate grass and even flush toilets.
ES’s vision is “to be a valued leader and partner in water sustainability.” In the past two years, ES staff have been working hard with many other state agencies, watersheds, and local partners to plan the route ahead. A recent high point was the Governor’s statewide “Water Summit” earlier this year. ES played an important role in that effort, engaging the nonprofit sector, community officials and the general public to start a comprehensive dialog about water sustainability in Minnesota.
Regardless of your perspective - city, county, watershed, region or state – we all agree that water is essential. One Water means that as partners we have to work together in new and enduring ways to protect, conserve and restore our water resources, as a legacy to future generations.
By Adam Duininck