The middle -- at least what I hope is the middle -- of winter is upon us. It's easy to forget that the water still needs us.

In 2008, over 50 percent of Minnesota citizens approved a sales tax increase to fund, among other things, improvements to and protection of our lakes and rivers.

The Minnesota State Legislature is the group that determines how those Clean Water Fund dollars will be spent. To help guide the Legislature, the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center has been tasked with developing a framework document as to "how and when to make investments that will ensure the purity and abundance of Minnesota's water for generations to come."

There are several ways that we can ALL help.

First, take a quick survey to voice your opinion about what is important to you with respect to water and areas you think should be a priority.

The survey can be found online.

Second, attend a public "listening session" that will be facilitated by staff from the Water Resources Center and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.

The meetings are a chance for people to voice their opinions on a range of water-related issues from boating and water recreation, to priorities for cleaning up polluted lakes and streams. Dates and times in our area include:

  • Feb. 11 at the Holiday Inn South, 1630 S. Broadway, Rochester
  • Feb. 18 at Thompson County Park Center's Dakota Lodge, 1200 Stassen Lane, West St. Paul

From 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. each meeting will focus on the concerns of professionals associated with local units of government, state and federal agencies and other water resource organizations. Citizens, community leaders and elected and appointed officials will have a chance to share their concerns from 4 to 6 p.m.

Please take the time to participate in these important activities. As always, please contact me at (507) 786-3913 or with any questions or concerns.