From July 10 to July 12, major water leaders came together in the Twin Cities for the 9th annual One Water Summit with one concern on their minds: what is the true value of water and how can it be improved?
As written in the official One Water Summit program, “the US Water Alliance advances policies and programs to secure a sustainable water future for all.”
To achieve this, the US Water Alliance hosts summits every year, bringing together diverse groups of varying interests to share ideas and strategies as the leading group in improving the quality and use of water.
This year, Minnesota was chosen as the summit location by the US Water Alliance for the first time since the first summit in 2010.
The US Water Alliance quoted in their program that Minnesota is a “state that embodies One Water, paying tribute to its rich water history rooted in a wealth of natural resources.”
Participants were given the opportunity to hear from several credible leaders of distinct delegations and organizations.
One of the speakers was Pakou Hang, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Hmong American Farmers Association, or HAFA.
HAFA is a local Minnesota non-profit organization that aims to help the immigrant farming community in Minnesota to gain access to land, government programs, training and new markets.
During the summit, several participants went on a site visit to the local 155-acre farm created and maintained by members of HAFA, where they learned about several practices that local farmers have access to that can help to maintain water sustainability in Minnesota.
One of the practices shared during the summit is the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program or MAWQCP.
The MAWQCP is a voluntary program that local Minnesota farmers and agricultural landowners can join in implementing conservation practices that protect the water.
By joining this program, farmers and producers will be certified and then be able to obtain regulatory certainty for a period of 10 years, giving them the benefit of not being subject to new water regulations and priority to technical and financial assistance.
HAFA was only one of the seven local Minnesota sites that were chosen for their efforts in the conservation and maintenance of water.
Another site visit that made the roster was the Target Field, where the Rain Water Recycle System that was developed by Pentair and the Minnesota Twins was highlighted for its leading integration of water advancement and reuse technologies.
This system ensures that rain that has been captured at the Target Field would be conserved and reused as drinking water, saving nearly 2 million gallons of water every single year.
Participants were given the opportunity to tour the LEED Silver stadium and learned first-hand why the Twin Cities is ahead of the game in sustainable water management.
Another site visit that was unique for the Twin Cities is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, or SMSC, in Southwest Minneapolis/St. Paul.
The SMSC is solely responsible for the drinking water, wastewater treatment and storm water management for all residents in the community.
During the summit, several practices were highlighted in the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
All residents participate in integrating water treatment and reuse facilities as well as green roofs and other measures to help with the preservation and restoration of the environment and water around them.
Participants of the summit learned that the SMSC highly encourages that chloride contamination, groundwater recharge, wastewater treatment and storm water reuse be addressed on a daily basis.
All seven site visits took place on July 10, but during the following two days of the summit, participants also had the opportunity to attend several inspirational sessions and workshops.
These sessions and workshops were designed to stimulate the minds of the attendees, helping them to achieve innovative and creative approaches to strengthening the environment around them.
By the end of the summit, several delegation leaders shared their thoughts and reflections on how the summit has either reinvigorated their thoughts on water maintenance and sustainability, or how it has further supported their plans for when they return to their hometowns.
The dates and location for next year’s One Water Summit is still to be announced. For info on the summit and how you can get involved in the One Water Hub, visit uswateralliance.org.