Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton last week released a report that summarized key findings from 10 water quality town hall meetings that were held between July and October 2017.
The town halls were a continuation of the Dayton administration’s goal to improve water quality by 25% by 2025. Dayton asked residents for feedback on the goal, and how to increase the pace of progress toward it. Doing nothing would mean an improvement of only 7% to 8% by 2034.
The report condenses more than 3,500 suggestions received from more than 2,000 meeting attendees. Those who attended the meetings recommended strategies to boost water quality education efforts, to empower local action and collaboration, and to increase investments in local clean water infrastructure, among other ideas.
Top concerns and strategies from the meetings addressed solutions for both urban and rural areas and included:
• improving water quality education and engagement for residents
• reducing water runoff by holding more water on the land through various water quality projects and practices
• improving collaboration, communication and action among all levels of government dealing with water quality
• empowering local planning and action with long-term water quality commitments
• reducing pollutants to protect drinking water
• addressing failed and aging wastewater infrastructure needs
• identifying long-term sustainable funding for clean water projects
Specifically for agriculture, the report mentioned that runoff of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment were concerning. To hold water and nutrients on ag land, recommendations included expansion of cover crops, reducing tillage, increasing crop diversity, increasing perennial crops, improving drainage management for better water retention, and improving soil health.
The report noted there was a balance of comments calling for more water quality regulation and enforcement, compared to those calling for more incentives. Report authors concluded the public feels that both “carrot” and “stick” approaches are needed to achieve clean water. They also noted some regional differences in feedback on this topic. Calls for increasing incentives ranked more highly in agricultural areas, whereas ideas for regulatory options ranked more highly in the northeast, north-central and metro regions.
To read the full water quality town hall meetings report, go to the governor's 25by25 Water Quality Town Hall Meetings report.
Source: Office of Gov. Mark Dayton