Resources for assistance and education

Water is life – and we’re all connected to it. The following resources, developed by the VRWJPO or others, will connect you to people, places, and productions about water quality and quantity. Enjoy exploring and sharing these resources.

Many different agencies are responsible for water resource management in the Vermillion River Watershed. Drilling a well? Constructing a road that intercepts a stream? Building a shopping center with a large parking lot? Installing a raingarden? These activities directly affect water quality and quantity. Who do you contact for permits, technical assistance, funding, or training?

We’ve compiled this general information about government agencies’ water resource responsibilities. Keep in mind that water management systems change occasionally, so if you find a link that doesn’t work, please email and we’ll update. You read this article from Freshwater for some history on water governance in Minnesota.

Groundwater – The water held underground in the soil or in pores and crevices in rock is groundwater. Groundwater supplies water for drinking water, irrigation, and business uses. During dry weather conditions, groundwater helps maintain lake levels, wetlands, and stream flow. People with water pumped and piped from private wells use groundwater for their drinking water supply. Who’s in charge of protecting groundwater?

Drinking Water – The water pumped and piped into households for drinking, cooking, and bathing can be groundwater or surface water (like a lake or river). In cities, to a public water supplier treats drinking water to remove contamination, stores it, and distributes it to households. Who’s in charge of protecting drinking water?

Surface Water – Surface water is water that collects on the surface of the planet, such as in a river, lake, or wetland. Lakes collect water, but do not (usually) change location or boundaries. Rivers collect and convey water, so can shift location and boundaries as they move through the landscape. Who’s in charge of protecting surface water?

Stormwater – Stormwater comes from rainfall and snow and ice melt. Stormwater can soak into the soil (infiltrate), be held on the surface and evaporate, or run off and end up – through storm drains –  in nearby streams or rivers without any treatment. As stormwater runs off different surfaces, it can collect pollutants and carry them to waterways. Who’s in charge of managing stormwater?

Shoreland/Floodplain – Shoreland is the land along a river or lake. A floodplain is an area of low-lying ground adjacent to a river, formed mainly of river sediments and subject to flooding. Shoreland that erodes because a river is too high or moving too quickly can lead to flooding. Structures located in floodplains can get flooded and carried into a river, causing pollution and damage downstream. Who’s in charge of protecting shorelands and floodplains?

Wastewater – Wastewater is water that has been used for washing clothes, flushing a toilet, or in a manufacturing process and contains waste products like sewage. Wastewater, unlike stormwater, must be treated before it is released to a nearby water body. Facilities allowed to discharge treated wastewater must have a permit that sets standards for water quality. In urban areas, wastewater is piped to a treatment plant for pollutant removal. In rural areas, residential septic systems treat wastewater to remove pollutants. Who’s in charge of wastewater treatment?

Fish and Wildlife – The fish and wildlife living in or near water resources can tell us how healthy water resources are by their population and condition. They are also monitored as natural resources and essential parts of our ecosystem. Who’s in charge of protecting fish and wildlife?

Agriculture – Agriculture is the practice of farming, including cultivation of soil for growing crops and rearing of animals to provide food and materials for clothing. Precipitation and groundwater for irrigation are essential for farmers, and agriculture has unique impacts on water resources. Who’s in charge of agriculture’s impacts on water?

The following educational resources can help you build environmental stewardship in the Vermillion River Watershed.

Interactive displays

We have interactive displays available for your classroom, community event, or special program. You can check out these educational tools for one week, free of charge, by emailing Brita Moore-Kutz or calling 952-891-7967.


Post these on your social media accounts or e-newsletters.

Activities for Kids

Metro Area Children’s Water Festival

We support the Metro Area Children’s Water Festival, an annual event produced for fourth graders in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.  The festival teaches students about water resources and ways to protect water quantity and quality. Students visit engaging hands-on learning stations staffed by environmental experts from water agencies and organizations. All students attend the Science Museum of Minnesota presentation and enjoy the Water Arcade. The festival is usually held the last Wednesday in September at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and is held virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers need to register for the opportunity to participate and schools are selected by lottery. The Children’s Water Festival website contains the registration form, plus information on how to sponsor or volunteer. Every year, schools within the Vermillion River Watershed attended the festival.

EPA’s Environmental Education eNewsletter

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sends (roughly) monthly e-news briefs to help educators connect with federal programs, new resources, and exciting ideas. Recent items on “EE at EPA” include:

Subscribe to EPA’s Environmental Education eNewsletter.