Written by Shelli-Kae Foster
On Wednesday, February 10, 2021 over 50 YES! students and teachers from Minnewaska, Sleepy Eye, Lac qui Parle Valley, Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Mankato West, logged onto zoom to learn about climate change and how it effects flooding and our drinking water. The workshop was led by Erik Cedarleaf Dahl. Erik is a Planning Director with the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and just finished the 2020 State Water Plan.
Erik kicked off the workshop by asking students how much water a person uses in one day? Most answered around 27 to 36 gallons a day. The correct answer according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 57 gallons a day. This set the stage for him to talk about where our water comes from and how climate change is affecting it. This was dramatically illustrated by a video from the Duluth floods back in 2012.
Erik wanted students to better understand the risks of flooding to their own home or town so he directed them to put an address into the floodfactor.com site. Most locations came up with 10% to 40% risk factor of flooding over the next 30 years, except one came up at 99% chance of flooding! Erik discussed many ways to help reduce the risk of flooding such as cleaning drainage areas, planting native plants, and reducing emissions.
Erik pointed out that extreme weather events are happening more in the winter than in summer with winter lows dropping by 7% and in summer the lows have dropped only 1%. Erik told the audience that the wettest and warmest decade in recorded history was our last decade 2010 to 2020. To wrap things up Erik spoke about where our drinking water comes from; 54% of drinking water is from groundwater, 25% from surface water and 21% from groundwater wells. Students were surprised to find out that only 30% of all drinking water in MN is protected.
Students asked great questions such as “What can we do personally to make a difference in water quality or water preservation?” Erik seizes this opportunity to put forth a “call to action.” Erik told students to do projects like lake shore and river clean-ups, Adopt-a-Drain and prairie restorations. He also invited students to voice their ideas and concerns to the EQB, which encourages all Minnesotans to get involved in protecting their environment!
Major support for YES! comes from LYFT Career Pathways, the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), and CERTs. Thank you!