Senator Chuck Wiger: Raising water awareness

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” – W.H. Auden

Having an abundance of clean water is a blessing we cannot take for granted. Protecting this natural resource requires action.

Water Action Day at the Minnesota Capitol drew hundreds of supporters from across the state. Their voices rang out at an afternoon rally in the Capitol Rotunda.

The Water Action Day message was clear: we must, on a bi-partisan basis, band together to protect our water for the fundamental survival of our state and its citizens.

Reasons for protecting our water vary widely. Some activists are motivated by wanting to sustain access to clean drinking water.

Outdoor enthusiasts want our lakes, trout streams and the Boundary Waters Canoe area to remain pristine. Boaters, fishermen and lovers of birds want our rivers to flow clearly and cleanly. Business people want to protect our hospitality and recreation industries.

Water Action Day activists who stopped by my office were eloquent in stating why they are so passionate about water.

Char Brooker of Maplewood said she loves the rivers of Southeast Minnesota and she wants the state to maintain the buffer law to prevent further soil erosion and river pollution. She noted that a 50-foot buffer of natural grasses and perennial plants keeps cultivated soil from pouring into the rivers and lakes.

Barton Winter of Birchwood said he loves trout fishing and canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. He is confident that well-intentioned people can come to agreement about how to achieve the proper balance between the farming economy and conservation.

Gladys Jones of North St. Paul, a leader in the Women’s League of Voters and the daughter of a farmer, said she is concerned about the mucky green algae that covers our urban lakes as our waters become warmer earlier in the season. She is also concerned about excessive road salt and fertilizer that is making its way into our lakes.

Jeannie Inglehart of Mahtomedi grew up in Florida and as a girl became involved in the “save our water” movement. Jeannie is a canoeist and a sailor and wants to protect our water for future generations.

Conserving and protecting the clean water that we have in Minnesota is an important mission of the state’s Legislative Water Commission. I was recently elected co-chair of this group.

Water conservation is at the heart of Race2Reduce, an award-winning program that students in White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi public schools have enjoyed as a result of legislation I authored last session. Funding for that program would be cut next year under the House version of the E-12 Education Omnibus bill. As a member of the conference committee that is reconciling House and Senate versions of the bill, I plan to advocate for continuing and broadening that program.

Clean water advocates, left to right, Barton Winter of Birchwood, Gladys Jones of North St. Paul, Char Brooker of Maplewood and Jeannie Inglehart of Mahtomedi visited with Sen. Chuck Wiger on Water Action Day.
Clean water advocates, left to right, Barton Winter of Birchwood, Gladys Jones of North St. Paul, Char Brooker of Maplewood and Jeannie Inglehart of Mahtomedi visited with Sen. Chuck Wiger on Water Action Day.

Water advocates have many ideas about what you can do to protect and conserve our water. Planting rain gardens in our yards keeps water from running into the streets, for example. Using grit instead of salt to minimize ice on our steps and driveways helps keep salt out of our water. Even turning off the faucet while we brush our teeth can help minimize water usage.

White Bear Lake area residents who have watched with alarm the decline of their lake level are waiting for a Ramsey District Court decision that they hope will lay out some solutions this summer. The four-week trial in March aired claims that the Department of Natural Resources should have done more to control pumping from the underground aquifer that feeds the lake. The DNR has maintained that White Bear has risen and fallen as part of a natural cycle.

Individuals who want to find out more about Minnesota’s water issues can visit https://www.mepartnership.org/ for more information.

I am convinced that if we work together, we can accomplish great things for the future of our state and our planet.

Need more information, have a question or want to share advice? As always, feel free to call me anytime at my office at 651-296-6820, or my cell/text is 651-770-0283. My email is sen.chuck.wiger@senate.mn.

Thanks again for the honor of serving and representing you.

 

This article was first posted in the Lillie News.

Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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