Water plan is a tribute to regional cooperation
Our region is blessed with an enviable amount of water resources: three major rivers, vast underground aquifers, and 950 lakes. As we grow and prosper, these resources require protection so future generations can have the affordable, safe, abundant water needed for a prosperous and equitable region.
That is why the Council, its partner agencies, and our region’s communities have worked together to update a comprehensive, long-term, regional water supply plan that focuses on the sustainability of these resources.
In mid-September the Metropolitan Area Water Supply Advisory Committee approved the Metropolitan Area Master Water Supply Plan, and a week later, the Council adopted it. While the Council is not a water supplier—and has no intent or authority to become one—the Legislature has mandated that we help communities and agencies protect our valuable water resources through this master plan.
To some it may sound strange to worry about water supply in the land of 10,000 lakes. But as the region’s population grows we must act to ensure that successive generations have access to water for public health, economic development, and recreation. The Council forecasts that our region will be supplying water to an additional 834,000 people by 2040.
The water supply plan includes an analysis of groundwater and surface water relationships that will allow water suppliers to manage their aquifers, and to understand how drawing down groundwater can impact lakes and streams on the surface. The plan also helps communities increase the resiliency of their supplies and conserve existing sources.
The 2015 update of the Master Water Supply Plan promises to help the region make progress, thanks to input from many partners. These include water suppliers representing the majority of the seven-county region’s residents; the Minnesota departments of natural resources, health, and pollution control; and stakeholders from watershed districts, nonprofits, and local government.
Over the two years of the plan’s development, the Council hosted or attended dozens of public meetings attended by 260 people representing more than 70 communities. We shared data and had one-on-one discussions with 90 water suppliers in the region. We convened a Community Technical Work Group to ensure the plan reflects the best data and incorporates local perspectives. We attended community meetings attended by 45 local representatives from 32 communities. The public comment process elicited very constructive and positive feedback. More about the Council's water supply planning initiatives and the Master Water Supply Plan.
Going forward, collaboration and involvement will guide our work with partners and agencies to help advance the strategies laid out in the Metropolitan Area Master Water Supply Plan. Future generations can count on safe, affordable, and abundant water through our work together.
by Adam Duininck