Northern Water Alliance Partners with Water Protectors

From Northern Water Alliance of MN
By Mary Ackerman & Jim Reents

Welcome Water Protectors!

Remember several years ago when Jim Reents and Mary Ackerman created The Northern Water Alliance of MN – an alliance of organizations and individuals concerned about water? Well, NWA is still active and we are part of the new campaign in our region by Honor the Earth and their friends. It was decided that it was high time to especially recognize and welcome Water Protectors. Who are Water Protectors?

You’re probably one of them! They are all those people working to stop AIS -- zebra mussels, milfoil, etc. -- from entering our lakes. They are people concerned about the agricultural run-off that has stricken hundreds of lakes in Minnesota making swimming and fishing prohibited. Water Protectors are those people working to keep the Boundary Waters free from pollutants. And, Water Protectors are the folks working to keep new pipeline corridors out of lake country and in more safe and appropriate locations.

Water Protectors are everywhere. They are an important part of Minnesota’s tourist economy. They own property and pay taxes. They are cabin renters with several generations of family that call this region magical. They are resort owners and small businesses that rely on tourism, fishing and hunting.

Water Protectors generate millions in the North Country. The U of MN estimated a decade ago that over $700 million was spent in the four-county area of Aitken, Cass, Crow Wing and Hubbard counties alone. An amount that exceeds every other region except the tourist-rich metro area of the Twin Cities. Water Protectors understand we are a water dependent economy. Many Water Protectors are unaware that the DNR has estimated that nearly 60% of MN’s lakes and streams -- the South and South Central portion of the state – are under “major stress – mostly cannot be restored or restoration is mostly unrealistic”. No swimming. No fishing. Our North Central portion of the state – around 40% -- has “Good quality lakes that can be protected.” Water Protectors work every day to preserve the North Country’s pristine waters for our kids and their kids to come.

The “Welcome Water Protectors, “ campaign launched June l5 in northern Minnesota, with the unveiling of two billboards -- one in Park Rapids, and a second in Backus. Both locations target the Line 3 Pipeline issue that seriously impacts those communities. The billboards feature the smiling face of NWA co-founder, Jim Reents, an Intervenor on behalf of the NWA in the Public Utilities Commission process opposing the Line 3 project. Sitting with Jim is a young Lakota boy, riding along the proposed pipeline route in the fifth year of the Honor the Earth Spiritual Horse Ride from Rice Lake Refuge to Rice Lake, Minnesota. When interviewed Jim said “Water is life. Each of us has a responsibility to maintain and preserve the waters in northern
Minnesota. Not only for ourselves ... but for future generations.”

You may not have thought about yourself as a Water Protector, but we are pretty sure you are. Please stay current on all the water issues that affect our lakes and watersheds. And, thank you for taking on your new title: Water Protector!

For more water information:
www.mnlakesandrivers.org MN Lakes and Rivers
www.MN350.org MN 350 – Climate Change, Twin Cities office
www.mnipl.org MN Interfaith Power and Light, Twin Cities office
www.mepartnership.org MN Environmental Partnership, Twin Cities office

Water Protectors Update on the Enbridge New Line 3 Route

Many of you have been watching the nearly four-year process to create a new pipeline corridor across our region. It’s a route across lakes, wetlands, the Mississippi River and some of the state’s most pristine waters. The Northern Water Alliance has been in the thick of it. A quick summary of where we are now might be helpful. At the end of June, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will determine if the Enbridge Corporation will receive a certificate of need and an approval of a route for the 915,000 barrel-per-day New Line 3. The Department of Commerce recommended against issuing the Certificate of Need last fall, and the Administrative Law Judge recommended against issuing a permit for the preferred route. Those two
recommendations are considered significant in the deliberations of the Public Utilities Commission. Given the tone of the MN Legislature this session and the power of corporate entities we are not at all sure the route will be shifted away from our lakes, wetlands and the
Mississippi River. Your letters, calls and emails have been so important. They may be needed
again.

In an Interview, Winona La Duke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth, said “When the state rejects Enbridge’s proposal, we will celebrate. If the state should go against all recommendations and issue a permit, we will be ready to camp and protect our water. “ Honor the Earth has been one of the leaders in opposition of the new Enbridge Line 3 route, the abandonment of the old Line 3 in place, and the argument that MN needs this pipeline at this
time. Honor the Earth will be inviting Water Protectors from across the country to camp across the proposed new pipeline corridor to protest the route.

More information about the camps can be found on their website. www.honorearth.org

If you are a Water Protector with concern about the New Line 3 Route, there are other good
websites you can use to become educated or updated:

www.friendsoftheheadwaters.org Friends of the Headwaters, Park Rapids
www.MN350.org MN350 – Climate Change, Twin Cities office

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