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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keep in mind: Nothing else happens if you don’t have water

Access to clean, safe water helps put Minnesota and the region at the No. 1 place to live in the country come 2032.
 
How important is water access? In western states, lawsuits over who controls water rights abound. Across the globe, access to water creates conflict where water is scarce.
 
Joel Barker, a Saint Paul futurist, thinks that water access should be weighed much more heavily in the assessment of livability rankings.
 
“The water issue should be looked at much more carefully,” Barker said. “Keep in mind: Nothing else happens if you don’t have water.”

Minnesota - and the region - ranks high in future livability, Star Tribune, Sept. 2, 2013
 
Mississippi River
To further illustrate that point, White Bear Lake in the east metro has lost nearly a fourth of its volume in the last 10 years. Saint Paul Regional Water Services could be part of two possible solutions out of several being discussed to address this issue. A conduit delivering raw water from the chain of lakes in the SPRWS water supply system to White Bear Lake is one idea. Another possibility is delivering treated drinking water to customers in the east metro by extending the SPRWS distribution system. SPRWS could provide 30 million gallons of water daily, using the river as its primary water source. A study is underway to examine the costs and feasibility of these options, among others.
 
 
The loss of lake volume is a symptom of the larger issue of water resources and use. Water is not an unlimited resource. We tend to take it for granted in this land of 10,000 lakes. But even here, we are tapping into and draining a massive underground aquifer that supplies water to most of the people living in the Twin Cities suburbs and provides irrigation for agriculture in several non-metro counties.
 
Right now, with the Mississippi River as its main water source, Saint Paul Regional Water has the ability to continue to provide safe, reliable drinking water to its customers well into the future. We have the capacity to expand our services to other areas, should the need arise.
 
But, like those living in White Bear Lake and implementing water conservation measures, we can all learn to use water more wisely. We can conserve where we don’t need to use as much, so that water continues to be available.

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