Dayton: Initiative wouldn’t add new regulations, but would instead drive public engagement and partnerships

    A “25BY25” Community Water Meeting with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton was held in Bede Ballroom at the University of Minnesota Crookston Tuesday evening following the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Town Hall.

    The purpose of the meetings is to give Governor Dayton’s feedback on Minnesota’s 25 percent by 2025 Water Quality Improvement Goal. His proposal would not add new regulations, but would instead drive public engagement and partnerships to address Minnesota’s water quality challenges. Crookston was chosen as one of 11 meeting locations from July through October.

    The large audience heard from Crookston Mayor Wayne Melbye, Governor Dayton, District Manager for the West Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District Nicole Bernd, Moorhead MPS Water Division manager Kristofer Knutson, and Wilkin County farmer Jerry Nordic about their efforts and ideas how the region and state can improve water quality.

    Examples of Governor Dayton’s regional water quality improvement goals include: reductions in water pollutants, protect drinking water, increase access and improve water recreation, increase water protection on agricultural lands, increase water protection in urban areas, and increase public engagement.

    After being asked by the Times what he had heard around the tables from local farmers and residents during the discussion portion of the meeting, Governor Dayton said he got a really good suggestion about developing incentives for farmers who adopt new technology.

    “Jerry Nordic described his cell phone app management and he says that we should offer incentives rather than mandates, you’ll get a lot more cooperation and participation,” Dayton explained. “If there’s some way we can provide that incentive and encourage farmers to take that next step forward; really I thought it was a terrific idea.”

    “And you’ll see that next February,” he added. “The best ideas do come from these meetings from people living in the real world.”

    “The walk the wind wisdom that people like me have here and the expertise that people in St. Paul have we can get a lot more accomplished,” Dayton continued.  

    Megan Ternquist from Red River Farm Network asked Governor Dayton if he has any big feedback or strong messages being heard so far to which he replied, “I’m really encouraged by all the initiatives that people are taking on and Crookston for what their initiatives have been. It’s exciting to hear that so many people are taking initiative long before I raised this issue.”

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT

    Audience members, with the people at their tables, were asked to discuss what they think their top three goals would be to help improve water quality of 25 percent in northwest Minnesota and what actions are needed to get to those goals. After 20 minutes of discussion for each of the questions, they were then asked to enter those three goals from their table conversation into a website called Pigeonhole.

    For the first question, “What goals would you like to see to improve water quality by 25 percent in Northwest Minnesota?”, answers were:

    • Why fix a system that isn’t broken… upper Midwest has some of the cleanest water in the state (9 votes)

    • The state has very different soils and the state needs a regional structure (5 votes)

    • Protect drinking water, reduce suspended solids in rivers and streams and have accurate water quality tests for NW Minnesota (4 votes)

    For Question 2, “What actions are needed to get to these goals for Northwest Minnesota?”

    • Use the plans that have already been developed by local SWCD, water shed districts, and counties! i.e. WRAPS (6 votes)

    • Better sciences (3 votes)

    • More funding for SWCD’s to increase water quality (3 votes)

    For Question 3, “What specific next steps are needed to move these actions forward now?”

    • State should look at local plans (swcd, co, wd) and fund the good plans already out there (4 votes)

    • More integration between the various agencies on data being used to establish policies (3 votes)

    • Taxes breaks for citizen involvement and voluntarily installing projects and bmps (2 votes)