Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 6, 2014

Another View: Water too precious a resource to waste

Water isn’t as abundant as we think in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

In the land of more than 10,000 lakes, you’d think lack of water is some sort of a joke.

The people in southwest Minnesota don’t think a water shortage is funny at all. They pay lots more for the precious resource than many of the state’s residents.

Mountain Lake’s wells have gradually pumped less in the last decade, according to Minnesota Public Radio News. City officials in the Cottonwood County city of 2,100 believe demand, drought and the general lack of groundwater are reasons for their shortage. The city doesn’t have enough water to run its filtration system efficiently, so minerals remain in the supply, hurting the water’s appearance and taste, the MPR report said.

The geology in that section of the state, with its clay soil, doesn’t allow as much natural storage of water as takes place in south-central Minnesota. But water experts across the state know that water resources need to be protected and conserved statewide, no matter what the geology.

In this region, we benefit from having more cooperative soil and natural aquifers that store water. Our city wells tap into them, but they can and sometimes do dry up. A couple of summers ago the city of Mankato was repairing a deep-aquifer well, and as a result, restricted water use. Even when the well was working again, the city retained restrictions on watering last summer, knowing conservation is important even when a drought is supposedly over.

That approach to recognizing water as a valuable resource won’t, and shouldn’t, fade anytime soon. State law mandates that cities put in place water conservation measures, which is prompting an end to volume discounts for large users in Mankato. City officials are revising the water rate structure to make bigger users pay a more fair share. Industry and other major consumers of water now get a 40 percent discount on water consumed beyond 225,000 gallons.

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