U of MN Extension

Water Quality focus of Water Summit

By Karen Terry, Extension Educator

February 2017

Governor Mark Dayton held his second annual Town Hall Water Summit at the University of Minnesota Morris on Friday, January 27th.  The Summit highlighted water challenges and solutions in western and southern Minnesota.

Extension display at SummitAttended by approximately 500 people (plus another 170 watching at live-streaming sites in St. Paul, Duluth, and Crookston and an unknown number live-streaming independently), the Summit kicked off with a welcome from UMM Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson, followed by Governor Dayton speaking about the need to address water issues in Minnesota. Talking about his passion for tackling these challenges, he said, “… I’m not going to be able to look [my grandson] Hugo and others in the eye if I haven’t done everything I can to improve water quality in Minnesota, and that’s what this Summit is all about, collecting ideas from all of you, who have much to the greater expertise than I do … “

Following Governor Dayton, Greg Page, retired Chairman and CEO of Cargill, spoke to the group and then was interviewed on stage by retired Minnesota Public Radio host Gary Eichten. A discussion on the Food and Water Nexus was then featured on stage with six panelists:

  • Lauren Biegler, Corn and soybean farmer
  • Larry and Nancy Greden, Dairy and crop farmers
  • Nancy Kenow, Director of Sustainability for Land O'Lakes
  • Holly Kovarik, Pope Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Pete Moulton, Director of Public Works, St. Peter

After a networking lunch, a second panel on Communities featured:

  • Blaine Hill, City Manager, Morris
  • Larry Krohn, County Coordinator/Administrator, Otter Tail County
  • Anne Marcotte, Aitkin County Commissioner
  • Vernell Roberts, General Manager of Detroit Lakes Public Utilities
  • Dan Schutte, Lake Soil and Water Conservation District

Throughout the Summit, participants could visit a demonstration area featuring 11 hands-on activities and displays. Organized by Extension Educator Karen Terry, demonstrators included Rob Gardner, Esther Jordan and Kelly Fischer (WCROC), Gary Amundson (Agricultural Research Service), Judy Johnston (Stevens SWCD), Ann Lewandowski (UM Water Resources Center), and Jared House (Grant SWCD). 

At the end of the presentations and formal discussions, participants were encouraged to visit to the Water Bar, at which they could sample drinking water from nine sources around the state, including public and private water supplies, while networking with speakers and other participants from the Summit. 

Governor Dayton has been promoting his idea of a stronger water ethic in the state. His office launched a campaign called A Year of Water Action in Minnesota.  “Governor Dayton encouraged all Minnesotans to take a role in protecting our state’s most precious resource for future generations. The Governor called on Minnesotans to affirm their commitment to rethinking how water impacts daily life and the lives of future generation; use water efficiently and wisely in everyday activities; learn more about what individuals can do to protect and preserve water; make informed consumer choices; and to talk to one another about water protection and preservation.”

The Water Summit in Morris was recorded and archived, and is available online

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