Gov. Mark Dayton calls for new plan to improve state’s water quality

His plan to make a 25 percent improvement to state water quality by 2025 was part of Friday’s state environmental congress.

Gov. Mark Dayton addresses the state's budget for the next biennium and how he plans to use the $1.9 billion surplus at the Capitol on Friday.

Daily File Photo

Gov. Mark Dayton addresses the state’s budget for the next biennium and how he plans to use the $1.9 billion surplus at the Capitol on Friday.

Max Chao

Governor Mark Dayton unveiled a new plan to improve Minnesota water quality.onFriday at the University of Minnesota as leaders, experts and community members met to discuss improvements to Minnesota’s environment.

Forty percent of the waters in Minnesota aren’t safe to swim or fish in, Dayton said at the conference. His plan calls for an improvement of state water quality by 25 percent by 2025.

“Clean water is your right, it is also your responsibility and mine too,” he said.

The 5th Annual Environmental Congress — led by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board and held at the University’s St. Paul campus — is a forum to discuss solutions to the state’s environmental challenges.

“In this time of rapid change, it is critical that we take advantage of times like this to come together, talk about our future, our shared goals and concerns about the environment, set priorities collectively and think about our paths forward,” said Will Seuffert, executive director of the EQB.

Dayton’s plan would involve the collaboration of various groups — from farmers and scientists to business leaders — to create new policy aimed at targeting the state’s water quality challenges.

And while the plan is an increase in pace from current policies, the governor said he wants even further actions in the future.

“My hope is that once citizens become fully engaged in this process … they will say a 25 percent improvement is not good enough,” he said. “We want all of our state’s waters to be restored to state standards; we owe it to ourselves and to our children and our grandchildren.”

The announcement comes a week after Dayton held a Town Hall Water Summit at the University of Minnesota — Morris. The summit is the second of its kind since Dayton enacted his Year of Water Action plan in August of 2016.

The event also included breakout sessions to discuss topics like climate change, transportation and environmental justice in Minnesota.