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SWCD News: 25 by 25 - It's your turn!

You Can Help

The "25 by 25" statewide initiative is looking for feedback from Carlton County residents. Take the four-question survey at carltonswcd.org/25by25/ by Sept. 25. The SWCD will compile the results to send to the state to be included in the overall state initiative.

Let your voice be heard — what think about water quality, what you've heard and seen and know, what your ideas and experiences are.

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Over the past few years, Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been bringing you up-to-date information about a variety of natural resource issues relating to forestry, watersheds, soil health, water quality, farms, wetlands, etc. One of the goals of these SWCD articles has been, according to the old saying, to "whet your appetite"...to give you a taste of the subject and to encourage you to dig deeper, do more research, ask questions, explore project possibilities, discuss with others those topics you are most interested.

In one way or another, all of these issues and articles come back to one major question: How does this affect water quality in my area, in Carlton County and beyond? Many people in state and local governments would like an answer to this very important question, and they want to know what you think.

A few weeks ago, this newspaper ran a front page cover that said, "Imagine a day without local news." Along that same line, can you imagine what our lives would be like without clean water? How would you handle having dirty, polluted water to drink, to cook with, to wash bodies and clothes in?

All over the world billions of people live without clean water. While most of these people are in third world countries, some are in the United States, too, especially in situations when hurricanes, floods or accidents contaminate rivers, lakes and groundwater which are the main sources of drinking water. Even in our area and in Minnesota, we read about warnings of excessive bacteria and harmful algal blooms in Lake Superior and other northern lakes, arsenic and nitrates in local groundwater, and other water quality issues.

Clean water is key to good life! For this reason, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has established a new public initiative, called "25 by 25," which seeks input from the general public in our state about how to improve Minnesota's water quality.

According to the website www.eqb.state.mn.us/Townhalls, the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board has already conducted several of the 10 town hall meetings scheduled from late July through early October around the state to "offer Minnesotans an opportunity to discuss the water quality challenges facing their communities and our state, to learn from experts, and to engage with policymakers." They were in Ely Tuesday.

"All Minnesotans have a stake in water that's safe for drinking, swimming, and fishing," Dayton said. "Together we can develop strategies and solutions that work for all of our communities."

Although they are free and open to the public, most of the meetings are a considerable distance for Carlton County residents to attend. Because of this, Brad Matlack, Carlton SWCD's district manager, has announced the SWCD is now coordinating a local public information effort on the 25 by 25 initiative.

"At our website, carltonswcd.org/25by25/, you can find a regional water quality information document, examples of water quality concerns, and, most importantly, a survey to provide your input," explained Matlack.

Along with interesting information about water quality in northeast Minnesota, the regional water quality document includes Governor Dayton's explanation of the initiative: "The quality of our lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater is threatened from many sources all across our state. We are at a crucial moment — we can continue to let water quality become worse or we can work together to reverse the damage that has been done and prevent future water degradation. It will take all of us working together to protect our waters for ourselves and future generations. That is why I set the goal to improve our state's water quality 25 percent by 2025. This goal does not mean that every pollutant will be reduced by 25 percent; it does not mean that every part of the state will improve 25 percent; but it means that in aggregate for the state and the many pollutants, there will be a 25 percent improvement.

"At the current level of effort," Dayton added, "there will be only a 7 percent improvement statewide, and without further action, water quality will get worse." He stressed that this is not a regulation but, more importantly, it is a call to action.

"I want to hear from people in every part of our state about the water concerns in their communities, how it will benefit our economy and quality of life to improve water quality, and what we can do to make greater progress toward clean water," said Dayton.

Matlack emphasized that this statewide initiative is looking for feedback from Carlton County residents just like you.

"You don't need to be a water quality expert to take the survey" said Matlack. And you don't need a lot of time. The survey includes just four questions that can be completed in just a few minutes.

The deadline for taking this local survey is Monday, Sept. 25. After that date, the SWCD will compile the results to send to the state to be included in the overall state initiative. As they are made available, Carlton SWCD will inform local residents of local and state results.

So now, It's your turn to tell us — and the governor of Minnesota — what you've been thinking about regarding water quality, what you've heard and seen and know, what your ideas and experiences are. We at Carlton SWCD, as well as the state, want to hear what you have to say. Your voices, along with the other statewide discussions and surveys, will lead to actions that will affect all of us now and into the future.

This is your chance! Share your ideas, comments and concerns with us! Be a part of one of the biggest statewide discussions going on right now!

Four questions.... Five minutes.... It's your turn.... carltonswcd.org/25by25/....

Let your voice be heard!

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