Learn & Act

The youth in Mississippi River Water Journey Camps started at the camp's storm drain and drinking fountain to learn about where the water comes from and goes, what happens along the way, and what they can do to help protect water quality. Their stories and discoveries are told in the Rain Camp Story Map, The Water We Drink Story Map, and the Video about the two camps. 


While there are some similarities across Minnesota, there are different types of water systems and different local water quality issues. Below are some resources to help you learn more about your water systems and how to protect your own local water quality. Depending on your location, it can take some effort to find out where your drinking water comes from, or your wastewater or stormwater (rain runoff) goes - and most people don't know. But learning how your own water uses are connected through water infrastructure to local water bodies can be interesting and rewarding, and make your water conservation efforts feel more meaningful. So see what you can find out, and most importantly, take action to protect your water resources!

Learn About Water and Water Systems

Resources for multiple types of water resources and systems:

Freshwater Society (non-profit) information, programs about protecting fresh water, Master Water Stewards program

Youth-Friendly Education About multiple water water systems in the urban water cycle: drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater

Urban Water Cycle with Alex the Frog (View at Minnesota Department of Health)
(Produced by Hamline CGEE)

Learn About Rain and Stormwater

Where does the rain go in YOUR neighborhood?
"A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that drains off of it goes into the same place—a river, stream or lake." -MPCA

Explore what happens across the land and beyond the storm drain in these links:
Stormwater 101-from CRWD
 "What is a Watershed" - MPCA
Minnesota Watersheds Interactive Map - MPCA
Minnesota's Watershed Basins - DNR
U.S. Watersheds - USGS

ACT : Here's links for what you can do to prevent stormwater pollution and help water quality.
How you can help-CRWD (scroll down for action list)
Adopt-A-Drain to help clean water

Learn About the Water We Drink

Where does YOUR drinking water come from?
Between 10-30% of Minnesotans supply their own drinking water, mostly from wells. If you have a well, you may be able to identify what aquifer it connects to using the Minnesota Well Index. See if your city or local environmental organizations can connect you to resources to learn about protecting local water quality. If you purchase water, contact your water utility (listed on your water bill) or search their website to find out the source of your drinking water and explore how to help protect it.

Here's more background on drinking water in Minnesota and the U.S.
Groundwater - MN DNR  information and links to many Groundwater information resources for MN
US household water sources - USGS

ACT : Whether you have a well or public water service it is important to conserve drinking water inside and outside the home. Here's some ideas:
Water Conservation - SPRWS

Learn About Wastewater

Where does YOUR wastewater go? Wastewater is what goes down the sink drain, shower drain, laundry drain or toilet. In rural areas, it might be treated by the homeowner in a private septic system before it is released into soils and ground water. In more urban areas it goes in "sanitary sewer" pipes and to a wastewater treatment plant that usually releases it into a water body. Contact your city to find out what body of water your waste treatment plant releases treated water to. Or for a septic system, call your city to find out about what ground water the water in your septic system might end up in after it has been treated in your system and filtered by soils.

Here's a youth-friendly description of the wastewater treatment process:
"Wastewater Treatment for Youngsters" - Metropolitan Council
Here's information about Septic Systems
Septic Systems - EPA

ACT : Whether a septic system or a wastewater treatment plant, waste water systems are only meant for normal human waste, toilet paper, and soap and water - not medications,  household cleaners. food waste, or even wipes. Here's a good list of what to flush and what NOT to flush to protect sewer systems and water quality.
"Know What to Flush" 

Join Community Efforts

Conserving water, and minimizing pollution is great. If you want to get involved in broader efforts to protect water,  find out how policies and budget priorities affect water resources in your town, region, or statewide. There are many groups working to protect water - and this year, the Governor has made it a statewide focus issue. Take the water stewardship pledge and learn more about individual and societal actions here:
A Year of Water Action in Minnesota - Office of the Governor

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