Dayton Hosts First Water Quality Summit in St. Paul
KSTP - video, 2/27/2016
More than 800 people participated in the first Governor's Water Summit in St. Paul Saturday.
Before Gov. Mark Dayton could welcome everyone, a group fighting the proposed Sandpiper and Line 3 oil pipelines in Northern Minnesota interrupted. The coalition ended up earning a 30-minute meeting with Dayton after agreeing to leave the stage.
"He did a good deal of listening and I feel like his responses were thought out, so I feel like he understood what we were trying to say and the message we were trying to convey," said Honor the Earth's Korey Northrup.
Dayton and his administration then sat in on the several different breakout sessions covering nine broad topics. The topics included aquatic invasive species, water and wastewater infrastructure and better investing in clean water with the remaining Legacy funds about to expire in 2034.
"There's a lot of very informed, knowledgeable people participating, each from different fields," said clean water advocate Amy Lilienfeld.
Dr. Nick Phelps researches aquatic invasive species, while also working for the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine. He said he joined the AIS discussion with landowners and environmental advocates he typically wouldn't have heard from.
"Getting minds like this together, the creative ideas will happen," Phelps said. "This gives us something to work with moving forward for management, prevention and research."
Dayton said the strong interest in the summit could make it an annual or biennial event.
"My hope is that this meeting will bring forth ideas that legislators and I can carry into the session," Dayton said.