Sustainable Summer Series #1: Stewardship of Water Resources

Can you believe summer ends in less than a month? Whether you’re excited about the approaching school year or not, we thought it was a good time to remind students, faculty, and staff of the four core principles of the Office of Sustainability. This includes the Stewardship of Water Resources, Creating Sustainable Food Systems, Maintaining Clean Energy, and Providing Sustainable Materials Management on campus. These four topics are major priorities for the University and all contribute to the overall sustainability of campus. We especially wanted to break these topics down to explain the meaning of each sector and why we care so much about them. We also want to describe how these topics are addressed through sustainability initiatives on campus. 

The first of these topics is the Stewardship of Water Resources. Water conservation is important for the University of Minnesota due to a number of different reasons. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus is positioned directly on the Mississippi River and is a large natural resource for the campus. Because of this, the Twin Cities campus is also a large proponent of creating and maintaining a healthy water system. Beyond this, the state of Minnesota has an extremely large amount of lakes, rivers and streams, and an even larger amount of aquatic biodiversity. Our care and conservation of watersheds on and off campus are extremely important.

The University of Minnesota, specifically, helps to maintain a healthy water system through its Facilities Management team and through University Health and Safety. Both programs work to promote and maintain the health, safety, and cleanliness of water systems.

Beyond what is done on campus in terms of caring and protecting watersheds, there are many things students, faculty, and staff can do on campus and at home to protect and conserve water.

  1. Pick up after yourself. Storm drains on campus run directly to the Mississippi, so be sure to pick up any and all items you see—or they may end up polluting our waters.
  2. Scale down on harmful chemicals. Most cleaning can be done with soap and water first. This way, chemicals are less likely to end up in our waters.
  3. Turn off your taps! Not only does turning off taps save water waste, but it also reduces energy consumption and saves money.
  4. Understand clean water systems. You may not always think about how easily we can access clean water. Try to remember that all of the clean water you drink is a finite amount and that we need to do all we can to preserve it for future generations.
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When I first moved from North Carolina to start working at the University, I was warned there are really only two seasons in Minnesota - winter and construction.

We have been spoiled by them!