Monday, April 16, 2018

Water Volunteering Opportunities in Minnesota

Sometimes making the changes to conserve water in our everyday lives simply is not enough. Sometimes we want to make a bigger impact to help protect our natural waters.

Get involved by volunteering with these organizations in Minnesota which focus on water conservation.

Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP)

A lot of volunteer opportunities to protect water involve collecting samples so that scientists can study and monitor changes. The wetland areas of Minnesota have a volunteer program called WHEP that does just that. Volunteers attend a training workshop and are given clear direction on what to do. A commit of just 20-40 hours through the whole summer is needed to collect the needed samples.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)

The MPCA accepts volunteers to help monitor the ice in their area throughout the state. The formulation and break-up of ice is an important milestone for a lake each year. Knowing as much information about this as possible helps to understand climate change and human influence on the health of Minnesota’s lakes. The lake ice reporting program is currently seeking more volunteers and could really use you! Click here to join in and help stop climate change.

Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR)

If you are interested in biology, this is the volunteer opportunity for you. FMR seeks volunteers to collect samples of small stream-dwelling bugs to track the health of the rivers that flow into the Mississippi. This is done in the Rice Creek Watershed District and is called the Stream Health Evaluation Program. Signing up means you are committing to spend 35-40 hours volunteering, mostly in the fall. You train with professional scientists to be a part of an important study to keep our streams healthy! Learn more here.

Besides these amazing volunteering opportunities, there are other ways to get involved. Click here to learn even more about how to protect Minnesota’s waters by volunteering in the community.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Reasons to Consider a Career in the Water Industry

If you’re looking for your first career or a new career, there’s a whole industry you maybe haven’t considered – The water industry! The Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association offers several great reasons to consider a career in the water industry.

Career Variety

There are many types of career opportunities in the water industry. These jobs range from those for high school graduates to those with graduate degrees. If you’re looking for an outdoor position or a desk job, the water industry will be perfect for you.

"Right now the thing I like most about working in the water sector is working on projects that rehab or expand existing facilities. There is a huge need to improve existing water infrastructure. My favorite projects have been related to increasing treatment capacities within existing footprints using technology that wasn’t available when the facilities were first built."
– Kevin Young, MN AWWA Member


Water is important to everyone. This means that there will always be a demand for fresh, clean water – especially drinking water. Where there is a demand, there is stability in a career.

Options for Relocation

Water is needed in every community. This means that if you want to stay where you are, you can. On the flip side, if you have a strong desire to move, you can do that, too! You will have options for relocation while in the water industry.

Room for Growth

Working in the water industry leaves you is room for growth. Depending on your ambition, you will have the opportunity for further training, certifications, and growth.

Sense of Community

A great reason to work in the water industry is the sense of community you have with the customers and your coworkers.

"The most rewarding thing is knowing that the work we do has a direct positive effect on the community." - Allison Wheeler, MN AWWA Member

"The thing I find most rewarding about working in the water sector is being able to distribute safe and reliable water to our customers. They rely on me to supply safe, clean drinking water to them at all times. Our customers also rely on me to ensure that our system is adequately supplied for their safety as well. Our department takes pride in being able to accomplish both on a daily basis." - Eric Volk, MN AWWA Member

"I think the most rewarding thing about being in the water sector is that I am playing a part in providing something that really matters. I’m not just making things look pretty or getting people to buy a product, I’m helping communities provide an essential resource. I can’t think of many things that matter more." - Nicole Gaustad, MN AWWA Member

Using this information, you should now be able to make a decision for your next career. For more information and help, please contact us. We offer even more great resources for a career in the water industry.

Monday, January 8, 2018

5 Ways to Conserve Water in the Winter

Water conservation isn’t something we think much about during harsh Minnesota winters.

If you take a look outside, there is no grass or garden maintenance to do and water does a pretty good job of conserving itself by staying frozen, right? Well, sort of.

Take a look inside your home and you’ll find plenty of ways to conserve water, even during these cold winter months!

Here are some water conservation techniques that are particularly helpful in the winter:

Drip Your Faucets

At first, this may seem counterintuitive to conserving water, but by letting your faucets drip while you’re sleeping or out of the house will prevent the pipes from bursting. Consider the wasted water and other dangers during the winter; letting your faucets drip may potentially save a lot of water.

Utilize a Shower Bucket

Dripping your faucets segways nicely into the next point: Find good uses for the water you drip. To conserve the maximum amount of water, place a bucket or bowl under dripping faucets and use the water to flush your toilet or water your plants!

Insulate Your Hot Water Pipes

One of the best ways to warm up on a cold winter day is with a hot shower. You may have noticed that it takes longer for the water to warm up in the winter than in the summer. That’s because your pipes are cold. Insulating your hot water pipes helps the water warm up quicker and wastes less water while you wait for it to heat up. Also, it protects your pipes from bursting.

This is another instance in which a shower bucket would be helpful. Instead of letting all that water go to waste while you wait for the water to heat up, catch it in a bucket and, again, use it for flushing the toilet, watering plants, or any other use you have for extra water.

Locate Your Water Shut-off Valve

Should a pipe burst or some other catastrophic event happen with your pipes, it is VERY important that you know where the water shut-off valve is on your property. When an emergency comes around, the sooner you can shut off the water, the better. You’ll save money on water and damage repairs, additionally, you’ll save hundreds of gallons of water if you can shut that gushing pipe off right away!

Check for Leaks After the First Thaw

During the winter months, day and night temperatures can be drastically different. As your pipes expand and contract with those changes, they are placed under a great deal of stress. This can cause pipes to leak or break, which can cause massive water loss and high utility costs, so be sure to have a plumber check your pipes for damage after the first thaw.

The average person uses almost 70 gallons of water per day, and that’s only indoor water usage. Peak water usage during the summer for a household skyrockets up to 350 gallons per day! Whether we’re talking about water conservation in the summer or in the winter, it should become a part of all of our daily routines.

Visit our website to learn more.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why America’s Water Infrastructure Matters

When Hurricane Irma hit in September, the aging sewer systems in Brunswick, Georgia flooded, making a very bad situation even worse. It can be hard to imagine going without water for one day, but thousands in Brunswick were not able to take showers, wash dishes, or flush toilets for four days. Our water infrastructure plays a seamless part in everyday life, so when it goes awry, the public notices. This specific example is why upgrading America’s water infrastructure is so important.

The American Water Works Association’s 2017 State of the Water Industry Report suggests that renewing water and wastewater infrastructure is the number one concern of water utility professionals in North America. However, because water infrastructure is out of sight, the seriousness of the issue is often times misunderstood.

MYTH: The federal government already overspends on water infrastructure.

FACT: 96 percent of public spending on water infrastructure comes from states and localities. So even though the conversation often makes national news, local water utilities often carry the financial burden.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the United States has nearly 52,000 community water systems. Because water systems are such regional operations, this can lead to coordination difficulties.

MYTH: As a public utility, water doesn’t add much to the economy.

FACT: Just 30 of the country’s largest water utilities support $52 billion in economic output and nearly 30,000 jobs annually. That doesn’t even include the millions of households, businesses, and industries that need seamless water infrastructure to function and grow their business.

In Minnesota, agriculture is a very important economic engine, and water systems are vital for its success. That’s because agriculture is one of the largest consumers of water. Water systems are tied directly to this industry and to workers that grow our food.

MYTH: Water costs are rising because water providers want higher revenue.

FACT: Water rates are increasing in many cities to cover the cost of infrastructure upgrades and repairs. In Flint, Michigan, infamous for its water contamination scandal, that will add up to an extra $300 billion on the county’s water bill. That puts many families in danger of not being able to afford their water bills. More public investment could help alleviate some of this cost.

The Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association is committed to providing clean drinking water to Minnesota. For more information, visit our website.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Finding Water Leaks In Your Home: Rising Costs and Wasting Water

Realizing you have a water leak days or even weeks after it began may be a costly and devastating discovery. The damage even a small drip can cause to your home is unbelievably destructive. Not only can a leak cause damage, but wastes water and increases your water bill. Being vigilant in finding water leaks in your home can help prevent all these problems.

Water Heaters

A common leak culprit is your water heater. If you notice water on the cement area around your water heater or water stains on the floor, there might be a problem with your temperature and pressure relief valve. This mechanism is very important to keep functioning properly as it can cause your water heater to malfunction if not serviced. Your water heater can also leak from the top as multiple plumbing lines go in and out of the appliance. Learn about testing your water heater for leaks and what you should do when you find one in this helpful article.

Leaking Toilets

One of the most common leaks occurs when a toilet flap is not properly closed, causing the pump to endlessly cycle water. An easy way to test this is to drop food coloring into the tank (just lift the cover) and watch the water in the bowl. If the water in the bowl changes color, you have a leak.

It is also common for toilet tanks to become unbalanced from the base when people lean back against them. Check periodically that there are no drips behind your toilet. Sometimes leaks are as easy as replacing chains or tightening bolts, but if you are unsure, it is best to call a plumber. Do not leave a leak unchecked.

Recognize Water Damage

Water damage can show up in many forms. Look for ripples in the drywall, mold or rot along baseboards, peeling and cracking plaster, or discolored ceiling tiles. The best way to find a hidden leak in your home's plumbing is to be aware of and investigate anything suspicious. If you see something you are unsure about, try to assess if it is damaged and where the damage is coming from. Often, you’ll find plumbing you were unaware of leaking and slowly deteriorating your home's building materials.

If you live in a home with metered water, check your meter for leaks. This is easy to do and will allow you to check your whole home's water outflow at once. Contact your water supplier if you suspect you have a leaking water meter.

Controlling leaks is an important aspect of limiting water consumption. When you care for the water in your home, you help care for the water in our entire planet. Fix a leak right away to cut costs, prevent damage to your home, and reduce water waste. Don't forget to always USE WATER WISELY.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Recap of the 101st Annual Minnesota AWWA Conference

What a week! Our 101st annual MN AWWA Conference took place along the water (where else?) last month, in the beautiful city of Duluth.

As usual, the conference was four days chock full of events, kicking off September 12th with a day of clay shooting, golfing, fishing and the like to raise funds for Minnesota AWWA’s Philanthropic Committee and the life-changing missions of Water for People and the Water Equation.

The support adds up. Overall this year, MN AWWA events have raised over $30,000 for the MN AWWA Philanthropic Committee. We welcomed 13 tournament fishing boats, 50 sporting clay shooters, and 105 tournament golfers.

Keynotes and Competitions

On September 13th, we heard from keynote speakers Brenda Lennox, President of the American Water Works Association, and Erik Therwanger, author of “The Leadership Connection.”

Later, we named the winner of the highly anticipated “Best in Glass” taste test award. This year, the City of Bloomington has the best tasting water in Minnesota! The city will compete at the American Water Works Association’s ACE18 National Conference next June in Las Vegas.

We also crowned champs for the Meter Madness, Hydrant Hysteria and Pipe Tapping competitions. Brent Massmann of the City of Eagan, the Duluth Great Lakes Tappers and the Bloomington Gladiators saw victory in each category, respectively.

Each winner will compete at the American Water Works Association’s ACE18 National Conference next June in Las Vegas!

Meet Eric Volk

September 14th was a day of recognition. We elected Eric Volk as the new Section-Chair Elect. Eric has worked his way up in the industry the last 15 years, first as a water/wastewater operator with the city of Blaine, then as a Lead Water Operator and now Water Superintendent for Elk River Municipal Utilities (ERMU).

He served for nearly 23 years in the military, including four deployments. He retired from the military in December 2014. He has earned his Public Works Certificate and is now working toward a BS in Business Administration.

As chair, Eric plans to focus on operator recruitment and training. Specifically, that means working with the Professional Operator Development Committee to make sure current and future operators can meet the challenges of enhancing regulations, as well as recruiting new operators by connecting with several programs around the state to train a new generation.

Award Winners

On Thursday, several members received well-deserved recognition for their hard work.
  • Patrick Shea was awarded the George Warren Fuller Award, which recognizes “distinguished service to the water supply field in commemoration of the sound engineering skill . . . the brilliant diplomatic talent . . . and the constructive leadership which characterized the life of George Warren Fuller.”
  • Steve Schneider was presented the Leonard N. Thompson Award, an award for “distinguished service to the water supply field in commemoration of Leonard N. Thompson, past General Manager of the St. Paul Water Utility for nearly 34 years.”
  • The Jon Eaton Excellence in Volunteering Award went to Brian LeMon, for advancing AWWA through his volunteer time and efforts.

We closed the week on September 15th with technical sessions, a panel session, and a farewell lunch. It was a great week learning from and with the state’s top water professionals.

View more photos from the conference here! To learn more about the Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association, visit our website!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

101st Annual MN AWWA Conference: Attendee Toolkit

Join Us in a SOCIAL TOAST to the
101st Annual Minnesota AWWA Conference!

Go to the Minnesota AWWA social media sites and follow/connect with us for conference updates.

Please note: To create real/true activity, you MUST do more than follow...please create posts, like, share, comment, tweet, retweet, etc.

Shout about the conference on your own social media platforms!

Join the Facebook Event page referenced above. Please share your updates, posts and please share your excitement! Use @ in your posts to tag the @Minnesota AWWA Facebook page.

Use the official 101st Annual Minnesota AWWA Conference hashtag #MNAWWA to share your updates, experiences and to stay current during the conference. Keep an eye out for special offers from local establishments throughout the conference as well.

Have any materials to share about the conference? Send them to and we will be glad to advertise and share your excitement!

We've also created some material for you to share:

101st Annual Minnesota AWWA Conference Preview Blog: