Minnesota Water Resources Conference

Two boys in a kayak on a lake resized

Annual conference convenes government, business, and academic professionals from across the state and nation to address water issues critical to Minnesota

Water is crucial to all life on Earth. Indeed, it's the very definition of "the good life" here in Minnesota.

When it comes to protecting and improving Minnesota's plentiful groundwater, lakes, and rivers, it truly takes a village. That's why every year since 2007, University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS) and the Water Resources Center (WRC) have partnered to bring together water resource professionals in the essential pursuit of clean water.

We hear people call this the marquee event for water resource professionals in the state.

"This conference is a chance for water professionals from different sectors—private, federal and state agency, academic, and nonprofit—to share knowledge and develop practical solutions that promote water quality," says Jeff Peterson, WRC director and co-chair of the conference planning committee. "Participants come from around the country to share research and management strategies. Important work has come from groups that used the conference as a convening point, such as the Minnesota Stormwater Research Council," a coalition of managers, practitioners, and engineers that work together to find stormwater management solutions.

"We hear people call this the marquee event for water resource professionals in the state," says Peterson of the conference, which had an attendance of almost 800 last year and is expected to top that this year. "And thanks to our partnership with CCAPS, the WRC can focus on program content through relationship building, while CCAPS so capably handles the conference planning, logistics, and evaluation. I believe this synergy lies at the core of the conference's success over the past decade."

What to Expect

The two-day conference, October 16–17, will examine a variety of scientific and technical research topics in four categories: stormwater, erosion and sedimentation, watershed and agricultural management, and chloride and bacteria monitoring. In recent years they've added a fifth topic, wetlands, to the first day of the conference.

The event will also feature four outstanding keynote speakers who will delve into issues that directly impact water quality in Minnesota. Mae Davenport, director of the U of M's Center for Changing Landscapes, will talk about land use. Earl Greene, who heads the Water Resources Research Act Program of the US Geological Survey, will present the 10-year vision for the program. And Ray Archuleta, a farmer and soil health specialist who does consulting for both the private and nonprofit sector, will discuss soil health. An invitation to a fourth speaker representing indigenous traditions is pending.

"The EPA reports that sedimentation is the number-one water quality issue in the country," says Archuleta. "Industrial agriculture has treated soil like dirt for the past 60 to 100 years, degrading soil quality and leading to a net loss of soil into waterways." Archuleta will be sharing examples of large-scale operations that are having success using more natural processes to promote healthy soil and keep it on the land.

Along with presentations, poster sessions, and exhibitor displays, there is plenty of time built in for networking, which Peterson considers fundamental to fostering the cross-pollination of disciplines. "Solving water problems is proving to be a challenge that can't be solved by one group alone. It will take skills and knowledge from disciplines across the spectrum of people who work on water quality issues."

Click for more details about this year's Minnesota Water Resources Conference.