LWV Upper Mississippi River Region, or UMRR (pronounced “Ummer”), is an interleague organization focused on water quality. UMRR is made up of 60 local Leagues in the states of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Our geographic area is the Upper Mississippi River basin – that part of the Upper Mississippi basin upstream of the river’s confluence with the Ohio at the south edge of Illinois. Here’s a link to an UMRR blog post to learn more about what an ILO is and how it fits into the LWV national structure, and to learn more about how our structure strengthens our work, allowing the amplification of the voice of League throughout the watershed.
Established in 2015, UMRR’s Board has strong representation from each of our four member states. Our Board members are listed on our Contact Us page– you may know some of us! The Board meets six times a year on the first Monday of even numbered months. In the pre-Covid days, we traveled around the basin for these meetings, which was a great way to get to know our members and the water issues in their communities. Now, everything is on the same schedule, but virtual. For each Board meeting, we also hold an educational session that focuses on a specific topic of concern. These educational sessions are open to the public and recorded videos are shared and posted.
Upcoming educational sessions are planned on
How to connect with LWV UMRR:
LWV UMRR’s website has lots of information. Our Blog features 2-3 posts per month on topics that UMRR is working on. One recent post includes a link to video from our Feb 1 meeting, where we learned about watershed-scale work to reach people and promote soil health and water quality. Our “Upcoming Events” page includes posts for our upcoming meetings and maintains Board meeting information from past events. Here, those who are interested can see our Board agendas, meeting minutes, Treasurer reports, and Action Committee reports as well as see the topics that were included in the educational sessions.
Almost every month, LWV UMRR puts out a newsletter that includes links to our Blog posts and other items of interest. You can sign up to receive the newsletter by submitting the info through our Contact Us page, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leagues that are not already members can join UMRR through our Membership page, and anyone interested in making a donation can do so on our Donate page.
Wisconsin Lakes is planning their annual get-together, virtual this year. And it's a multi-day event! Lots of great talks and interesting things to learn - read more below.
With Wisconsin Water Week, March 8-12, 2021 you can expect
Conference organizers promise that this is NOT going to be just a series of Zoom presentations. You might even call it, unconventional.
Citizens' voices are needed in environmental advocacy. Here's an opportunity for Iowans to reach out to their legislators and speak up for their environment.
Iowa Environmental Advocacy Day
February 25, 12-3pm
Iowa Environmental Council's post on the subject:
Each legislative session presents opportunities to advocate for Iowa’s water, land, and climate. In 2021, IEC staff, advocates, and volunteers will push to for improvements in clean energy policy, water quality, energy efficiency, and more. This year we're doing things a little differently! We invite you to join us virtually on February 25 for two engaging events. You'll hear from advocates and legislators, learn how you can get involved, add your voice to our growing coalition, and support this important work.
Individual activists and organizations are encouraged to participate in Environmental Advocacy Day.
During Advocacy Day, you'll hear from environmental advocates and legislators, have a chance to participate in a free advocacy training session, network with environmental organizations and other Iowans engaged in this work. Environmental Advocacy Day will take place on Whova, an online event platform. Detailed instructions will be provided in advance of the program. Registration at this link - you can also register for the evening social event/fundraiser here.
The Minnesota Environmental Partnership is planning a similar event for April, in conjunction with Earth Day - more on that as information becomes available.
Clark Porter from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and a farmer in the Blackhawk Creek watershed, then brings the big discussion down to particulars, talking about his work in the Blackhawk Creek watershed. He also provides an overview of how watersheds, and why it's vital that we do better to protect our soil and water resources. Clark is accompanied by Faith Luce, a recent graduate from the University of Northern Iowa. and Watershed Coordinator for Blackhawk Creek. The video begins with an introduction by LWV UMRR's Mary Ellen Miller.
February 1, 2021, LWV UMRR will host talks on how local actions can improve soil and water quality in a watershed. This Zoom meeting will take place at 1pm CST. We hope that you can join us for this meeting, either by participating in the Zoom or watching it on Facebook Live. The Zoom link will be sent to our contacts in member Leagues, LWV UMRR Board members and those who request it by emailing us email@example.com .
Our speakers will be Heidi Keuler from Farmers and Fishers, Clark Porter from the Blackhawk Creek Soil and Water Coalition and Faith Luce, Watershed Coordinator for Blackhawk Creek . Heidi will describe the work - and success - that Fishers and Farmers is having with their new outreach campaign. We had a blog post on Fishers and Farmers in October; in this meeting Heidi will tell us all about their efforts and give us all a chance to ask questions and gain a good understanding of their work.
Clark Porter will then bring the big discussion down to particulars, talking about his work in the Blackhawk Creek watershed. This post from Farmers and Fishers describes the work that Clark has done to build a partnership of people and organizations in his watershed to further water quality improvement. Clark will be accompanied by Faith Luce, a recent graduate from the University of Northern Iowa. and Watershed Coordinator for Blackhawk Creek.
Here's a quote from the post about the Blackhawk Creek Soil & Water Coalition:
Clark Porter sat finishing lunch with a farming neighbor at a recent celebration opening a new Crop Production Services facility in Grundy County, Iowa. Their conversation turned to Blackhawk Creek and the Blackhawk Creek Water and Soil Coalition, a group Porter established just a year ago – in February 2017.
The neighbor asked if it helped that Porter farmed in the watershed too. Porter said he believed it did. “It gives you credibility,” observed the neighbor.
Porter hopes to rely on that credibility as he works to build a sense of community in a watershed with both rural and urban stakeholders – a condition that has led to past conflict in his state. Advocates in the city, where Porter lives, have told him he could serve as a “bridge” across the watershed.
Read biographic info on our speakers by clicking the READ MORE link below:
The problems of water quality are shared by rural and urban Minnesotans. The solutions have to be shared, too.
The need to reduce the amount of pollutants that go in to the river unites both agricultural and industrial interests. To help to bridge the ag-urban divide and unite interests, forums have been organized to bring people together. The second annual forum was held on December 16, 2020.
According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's post on the conference, ""The key issue initially fueling the conferences centers on the question, how can the urban and rural agriculture worlds work together to address water quality and other environmental issues? Cities face daunting costs for wastewater treatment. Agriculture dominates the rural landscape, and has a major impact on water quality. What if both worked together?
While environmental quality is the goal, getting there is all about the economy. And climate change.
Leif Fixen of The Nature Conservancy promoted the Ecosystem Service Marketplace Consortium (ESMC), which is developing the processes and technology that would pay farmers for “carbon credits” — a measure of capturing carbon to help mitigate global warming." Click the picture below for more information on this pilot project.
The first Ag-Urban Partnership Forum was held on November 18, 2019 and is documented in a detailed .pdf found at this post on the Minnesota River Data Center website.
As a reader of this Blog, you'll know that we talk a lot about nutrient reduction. In our November posts and newsletter, we focused on nutrient pollution from agricultural runoff. Why do we care about nutrients: Read more in this previous post about the Dead Zone, compliments of the Mississippi River Network.
Here in December, we'll focus on urban stormwater. In today's post, we're sharing a recent study conducted by the US Geological Survey in three urban areas in Wisconsin. The study is can be found at Reducing Leaf Litter Contributions of Nitrogen and Phosphorus and Nitrogen in Urban Stormwater through Municipal Leaf Collection and Street Cleaning Practices. on the USGS website.
Here, they compared the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in runoff in areas where heavy tree canopies overhang city streets. The test was whether street sweeping - the mechanical removal of leaves from the street in various ways - reduced the amount of nutrients in the runoff. The study tested both types of leaf removal and frequency.
Why does this matter? It's critical that cities know what is effective for reducing nutrient pollution to be able to protect their local water resources. The impact of leaves from city streets can change a small lake. This story map from Capitol Region Watershed describes the changes to Como Lake in St. Paul, Minnesota, due to leaves from the heavily treed streets upstream from the lake. They said, "Phosphorus is the primary pollutant of concern in Como Lake. It occurs naturally in lakes in low concentrations and is required to support aquatic life. However, in high concentrations, phosphorus causes the overgrowth of algae and aquatic plants, and reduces water quality. "
Here the watershed has engaged citizens in the neighborhood and the City of St. Paul in leaf collection, and it's helping the lake, a gem of St. Paul and the central feature in Como Park.
Groundwater is an essential component of the hydrologic system of the Upper Mississippi basin. This beautifully illustrated video shows how groundwater connects what happens on the land to the waters of the Mississippi.
This video is one of a series of videos - click this link to see them all. They are produced by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as part of their series on Southeast Minnesota Groundwater Resources, see this webpage for more information.
Southeast Minnesota is part of the Driftless Area that includes large parts of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. What you see in this video applies throughout the Driftless, a unique landform with extensive and vulnerable groundwater resources. Learn more about the Driftless area at this link.
The "Fishers and Farmers" is an organization we first learned about back in 2017 at our Annual Meeting in La Crosse. They are now doing really exciting outreach - radio programs and online conversations. (Heidi Keuler of Fishers and Farmers spoke at our Annual Meeting - here's the video of her talk at that meeting.)
Today, Fishers and Farmers is reaching out virtually to people through web conversations and radio programs. Their Boots on the Ground conversation series and Neighbor to Neighbor streaming radio program and podcasts introduce us to people who are working together now, to protect places they care about, right where they live.
The next program will be a conversation with a local group of people working to make tangible differences in the Root River in Minnesota. Here's a list of upcoming and past programs that you can access on the Fishers and Farmers website:
- January 21 - Root River Field to Stream Partnership
- December 19 - Tainter Creek Farmer-Led Watershed Council
- November 19 - Iowa's Black Hawk Creek Soil & Water Coalition
- October 19 - Fishers & Farmers Combines Sustainable Farming & Stream Management
Dr. Christopher Jones is a Research Engineer at the University of Iowa. He writes a blog that looks at water issues in Iowa. One of his posts, from March of 2019, Here, he calculates the 'human equivalents' of wastes produced by the livestock population of Iowa. It's a fascinating read! Click here!
The human and animal populations were divided up in Iowa's watersheds, and the following table produced that shows the breakdown, and then lists an appropriately-populated city for comparison.
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