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Safe drinking water: Invisible but not invincible

Safe Drinking Water Week activities include release of 2017 Year in Review, Water Bar event at State Capitol

Minnesota’s public water supply systems continue to have among the highest compliance rates in the nation for federal safe drinking water standards, but systems around the state face a number of growing threats according to an annual report released today by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Public Water Supply Systems 2017 Year in Review (PDF)

The MDH report was released as part of activities marking Safe Drinking Water Week, May 6-12. The week is set aside each year to recognize the vital role safe drinking water plays in people’s daily lives and to call attention to the efforts of water professionals and public sector partners who make safe drinking water possible.

The main event for Safe Drinking Water Week in the Twin Cities this year is a water tasting opportunity at the State Capitol today, courtesy of the Water Bar of Minneapolis. Bar tenders offer flights of water from three different community water supplies and guests sample each one, trying to guess the source.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm noted that safe drinking water systems may be almost invisible, but they are not invincible.

“While the Minnesota Department of Health and public water systems across the state work hard each day to prevent problems like the ones that happened elsewhere in the country recently, most Minnesotans are unaware of the risks to their water supplies, and the efforts and investments needed to protect them.”

Besides pumps and pipes, Malcolm said, providing safe drinking water requires strong partnerships between community water operators, local governments, technical experts at MDH and other state and federal agencies.

“If we don’t maintain both the infrastructure and the partnerships, we weaken our ability to provide low-cost, safe drinking water for all Minnesotans,” she said.

The 2017 Year in Review provides a summary of the compliance status of Minnesota water systems, briefly discusses challenges in bringing safe drinking water to residents on a daily basis, and notes a number of changes, improvements and highlights for the drinking water protection program in 2017.

Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed May 6-12 as Safe Drinking Water Week in Minnesota. The governor’s proclamation this year took an upstream view of drinking water, calling attention to the importance of source water protection efforts around the state. “Protecting our sources of drinking water from contamination or overuse is the first step in ensuring a safe water supply,” Dayton said. “Stewardship is the responsibility of all of us, as Minnesotans depend on an adequate supply of safe drinking water for their health, quality of life, and economic viability.”

Communities excelling in source water protection efforts were recognized during Safe Drinking Water Week. This year, the cities of Mankato and Altura and the Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water system received awards for their source water protection efforts. More information on award recipients can be found on MDH’s Source Water Protection Awards page.

Other activities during the week included:

• Announcing winners of the statewide poster contest held in conjunction with H2O for Live. MDH has partnered for several years with H2O for Life on the poster contest, with prizes of bottle-filling stations being awarded to the schools with the winning entries. This year’s theme was, “Keep It Out of Your Water Spout.” The winners are listed on School Water Poster Contest 2018 page on the MDH website.

• MDH offered a series of videos on its YouTube site called “Invisible Heroes” that tells the stories of several cities that overcame challenges such as contamination, lack of adequate water sources and aging infrastructure through their partnership with MDH. The videos are at Invisible Heroes Videos.


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