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Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith Hold Town Hall Water Summit at University of Minnesota, Morris

A photo of a wind turbine with a "Water Summit" logo
Sam Fettig, Office of Governor Mark Dayton & Lt. Governor Tina Smith
Publication date: 
January 6, 2017
Governor and Lt. Governor invite all Minnesotans to participate in conversation focused on water challenges and solutions in Greater Minnesota

ST. PAUL, MN – On Friday, January 27, 2017, Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith will host a Town Hall Water Summit on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Morris. The Summit will bring together local government leaders, farmers, students, environmental groups, and businesses, to focus on water challenges and solutions in Greater Minnesota.

"Communities in Greater Minnesota face special challenges to ensure that their citizens have access to clean water for drinking, washing, agriculture, business, and recreation," said Governor Dayton. "These challenges are everyone's responsibility, and everyone's opportunity. I invite all Minnesotans to join us in seeking solutions, at the Town Hall Water Summit in Morris."

The Town Hall Water Summit is the second large public forum during Governor Dayton's Year of Water Action, following the Governor's Water Summit last year.

"Clean water is good for our environment, families, and businesses. Without clean water, you can't grow the crops that feed our growing population, take in a great fishing opener, or expand your business across our state," said Lt. Governor Smith. "I look forward to hearing from Minnesotans about how we can rise to this challenge, and ensure clean water for years to come."

Despite the state's abundance of lakes, rivers, groundwater and streams, more than 40 percent of Minnesota's waters are currently listed as impaired or polluted. Damaging aquatic invasive species have infested more than 550 lakes statewide. The water treatment plants and clean drinking water systems that make Minnesotans' water safe to drink, cook with, and bathe in, are also in serious disrepair. Some communities still rely on wooden pipes, installed more than 100 years ago, for their drinking water. In fact, Minnesota is $11 billion behind in just maintaining our aging water treatment and delivery systems over the next 20 years. And initial testing indicates that 60 percent of the wells in Central Minnesota may not provide safe drinking water.

"I am pleased that Governor Dayton has selected the University of Minnesota, Morris as the location for this year's water summit," said Chancellor Jacqueline R. Johnson. "Powered by the wind and sun and fueled by local biomass, the campus is nationally recognized as a leader in environmental innovation. Summit participants will not only contribute to a vitally important conversation, they will also have the opportunity to experience a campus that is a model for sustainable living."

Governor Dayton has declared a "Year of Water Action" urging all Minnesotans to rethink water usage in daily life, make informed consumer choices, and talk to others about clean water protection and preservation.

Town Hall Water Summit Program

Each interview, speaker and panel will include inclusive Q&A sessions and public conversation.

9:45 a.m. Registration Opens and Social Hour

10:30 a.m. Welcome – Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson

10:35 a.m. Gary Eichten Interviews Governor Mark Dayton

Governor Dayton will be interviewed by former MPR host Gary Eichten

10:50 a.m. Keynote Address – Greg Page, former CEO of Cargill

11:45 a.m. Networking Lunch

12:45 p.m. Panel 1: The Food and Water Nexus

Water is essential to food production, but what is the impact of agricultural activities on water quality and public health? Are farmers taking on risk by making continuous improvements that minimize impacts on water? What is the role and responsibility of private sector industry? What kinds of support do farmers need to make changes?

  • Laura Biegler, corn and soy farmer
  • Larry and Nancy Greden, dairy and crop farmers
  • Becky Kenow, Director, Sustainability at Land O'Lakes
  • Holly Kovarick, Pope Soil & Water Conservation District; member, Clean Water Council
  • Pete Moulton, Water Superintendent, City of Saint Peter

1:45 p.m. Break

1:50 p.m. Panel 2: The Economic Importance and Burden of Water for Communities

What are the challenges facing local communities and watershed management plans? What innovative solutions and best practices to improve water quality are being cultivated in Greater Minnesota?

  • Blaine Hill, City Manager, Morris
  • Larry Krohn, Otter Tail County Coordinator/Administrator
  • Anne Marcotte, Aitkin County Commissioner
  • Dan Schutte, District Manager, Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Vernell Roberts, Utilities General Manager, Detroit Lakes

2:50 p.m. Closing Remarks & Looking Ahead – Lt. Governor Tina Smith

3:00 p.m. Social Hour featuring the Water Bar

4:00 p.m. Town Hall Water Summit Concludes

Satellite Locations Will Connect Minnesotans Across The State To Summit In Morris

Minnesotans across the state will be able to participate in the Town Hall Water Summit in multiple ways. The Governor's Office and the University of Minnesota, Morris will host a live YouTube stream of the Summit.

Satellite viewing locations of the Town Hall Water Summit will be available at University of Minnesota campuses across the state. Individuals planning to participate through a satellite location should register at

University of Minnesota – Duluth

224 Cina Hall
1123 University Drive
Duluth, MN 55812

University of Minnesota – Crookston

Kielhe Auditorium
2900 University Ave
Crookston, MN 56716

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities – St. Paul Campus

R380 Learning & Environmental Sciences
1954 Buford Ave
St Paul, MN 55108

Whether on campus at Morris or streaming around the state, Minnesotans are encouraged to engage in the Town Hall Water Summit through Twitter using #MNWaterSummit. Question and answer sessions will draw on questions and comments shared throughout the day on Twitter.

Register for the Town Hall Water Summit

Registration for the Town Hall Water Summit is free and open to the public. Registration includes a box lunch. Due to a high level of anticipated interest in the Summit, early registration is recommended.

Register for Governor Dayton's Town Hall Water Summit at the University of Minnesota, Morris

Register to participate via a satellite viewing location

Key Findings From Governor Dayton's 2016 Water Summit

In February 2016, Governor Dayton convened the first ever Water Summit to bring attention to the challenges Minnesota faces to protect and improve water quality across the state. More than 1,000 Minnesotans participated in the event – the first of its kind in the nation. Read key findings from Governor Dayton's 2016 Water Summit

More information about Governor Dayton's Year of Water Action and what individuals, businesses and communities can do to improve the quality of Minnesota's most precious resource