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We Are Water MN exhibits are shown here in the Institute on the Environment space at the University of Minnesota.

We Are Water UMN

An unassuming email with the subject line “possible to talk about hosting a water-community exhibit in LES?” came through my inbox midday on February 27, 2018. Little did I know this email would change the way I looked at my work at the Institute on the Environment (IonE) and spark my drive for collaborations within and outside the University community in respect to absent narratives.

St. Anthony Falls Laboratory on the Minneapolis riverfront in 1942. The landmarks of Minneapolis are evident, as well as SAFL’s intimate relationship with the river. Courtesy of University of Minnesota Archives.

Lab on the River – Snapshots of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory

The St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL), which falls under the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota (UMN), is one of several historic buildings along the Minneapolis riverfront. Constructed in 1938 using funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), SAFL utilizes the 50-foot elevation drop over the St. Anthony Falls to bring water into the building for use in experiments and research of fluid dynamics…

Landscape view at Whitewater Park. Notice the fields on the hillside. Image courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Fields: The Transformation and Healing of the Whitewater Valley

They say hindsight is 20/20. Farmers of the past didn’t have information about environmentally friendly agricultural techniques. The farming techniques used today to reduce erosion and other negative environmental effects were developed as we learned from agriculturally derived disasters. Situated in the Whitewater River Valley less than 10 miles from the confluence with the Mississippi River, Beaver, Minnesota was one such town that suffered…

View of Duluth on the shores of Lake Superior, showing the Aerial Lift Bridge and the Great Lakes Aquarium.

Eyes on Large Lakes

“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” So said H.D. Thoreau in Walden, conjuring an image of human eyes peering intently into Earth’s eyes, and learning something profound in the process. Indeed, who among us hasn’t gazed into one of these watery eyes of Earth, into a lake’s mysterious depths, and had their souls stirred, their curiosity piqued?…

NRRI researchers sort through samples collected at Lake Mille Lacs last summer to understand how invasive species are impacting the food web of walleye.

NRRI’s Systems Approach to Minnesota Water Challenges

Water equals life, and in Minnesota especially, clean water equals quality of life.  As one of our state’s most prized resources, the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) takes water seriously.  Founded in 1983 by the state legislature, NRRI was established to balance economic development of natural resources with environmental sustainability. Applied research solutions for water challenges…

First snow at Triple Divide Peak. Image courtesy of Daniel Lombardi.

Where the Water Flows: Understanding Glacier’s Triple Divide Peak

Imagine pouring out a glass of water. Where does the water go?

After soaking your computer or floor, it would eventually flow to join a greater body of water and become part of a larger drainage system. Where I grew up, outside of Milwaukee, my water would join with Lake Michigan. In the Twin Cities, where I went to university, it would flow into the Mississippi River. From Jackson, Wyoming, where I’m writing now, it would combine with the Snake River and flow into the Pacific Ocean. But Glacier National Park, where I worked in the summer of 2017, has a unique little point called Triple Divide Peak.