ST. PAUL, Minn. — Governor Mark Dayton declared Wednesday, April 19, 2017, Clean Water Action Day across the state of Minnesota.
Hundreds of Minnesotans from around the state gathered at the Capitol in St. Paul to rally asking lawmakers to protect the water in Minnesota.
The event, put together by 40 organizations, had more than 800 registered participants engage with lawmakers on Wednesday.
The rally booked speakers including Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Vice Presidential Candidate for the Green Party in the 1990’s Winona LaDuke, and polar explorer Ann Bancroft. Organizers had promoted the appearance of former Vice President Walter Mondale, but Mondale, who was unable to make it at the last minute, sent a letter to be read instead.
Throughout the rally, people would stand at the podium chanting, “Water is life,” in various languages. The rally can be viewed in its entirety below:
“All Minnesotans have a stake in water that’s safe for drinking, swimming, and fishing,” said Dayton. “These town hall meetings will further the important conversations already happening across Minnesota around water quality. Together we can develop strategies and solutions that work for all of our communities.
Dayton also talked about his “25 By 2025 Water Quality Goal” which he introduced earlier this year. The initiative seeks to improve the water quality by 25 percent by the year 2025. According to a press release by the Governor’s office, phosphorous levels in the water would be decreased by 12 percent by 2025 and nitrogen level by 45 percent by 2040.
Dayton said the voices at the Capitol don’t represent all the voices of Minnesota.
“We’ve got lobbyists and others representing special interest groups who say take away the environmental protections, roll back or delay the buffer legislation,” Dayton said. “All of you here is important.”
“We will be dancing for our water and to protect and heal our people,” LaDuke told attendees.
Briefly touching on the pipelines, LaDuke told attendees, “they should take their pipes to people who want them, like those in Flint, Michigan.” LaDuke was the first Native American woman to receive a Vice Presidential electoral vote in 2016 when a faithless Washington elector voted for her.
Famers like Julie Arnold said solutions exist for agricultural water pollution. “This time of the year when 75 percent of our farmland is bare and exposed reminds us why we need farming systems that create continuous living cover.”
Ann Bancroft told listeners, “It will take all of us engaged in their protection and management to ensure healthy water systems for future generations.”
The water action day attendees rallied from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. attending workshops and meeting with their local representatives.
The governor’s office also rolled out a list of Water Quality Town Halls to be held later this summer into the fall.