This project will build network and the skill set of local resource professionals to do effective civic engagement work for water restoration and protection in Southeast Minnesota. The cohort will be administered through the Southeast Minnesota Water Resources Board (SE MN WRB) which is an area wide Joint Powers Board (JPB) established to help improve and protect the water resources of the area through coordinating local water planning efforts. This JPB has successfully administered water quality grants in the past that have positively impacted the water resources of this region.
This project will be the first of its kind Civic Engagement Cohort that focusses its efforts in an individual watershed. The Otter Tail River Watershed is scheduled to start a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) in 2016 and as a component of that project, the cohort will provide the civic engagement requirement. The cohort will be comprised of 25-30 individuals located throughout the watershed who represent a broad spectrum of resource managers and citizens who are familiar with water quality and watershed management.
The University of Minnesota will develop effective interview questions for community watershed assessments in the Rainy River basin and provide assistance in understanding the data collected through community interviews.
Approximately 70 percent of all Minnesotans rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. Wells used for drinking water must be properly sealed when removed from service to protect both public health and Minnesota’s invaluable groundwater resources. The Minnesota Department of Health protects both public health and groundwater by assuring the proper sealing of unused wells.
Clean Water funds are being provided to well owners as a 50% cost-share assistance for sealing unused public water-supply wells.
This assessment will be performed using scientific volunteers, will build capacity at a technical training program at Itasca Community College (ICC), and will provide MPCA with answers providing a reasonable expectation for water quality in this under-studied region of Minnesota.