During the past couple weeks, I have found two reports that have impressed me.

The first one comes from The California Aggie, a student newspaper for the University of California-Davis, regarding the University of California’s 13th annual report on sustainable practices. According to the Aggie, “UC-Davis achieved a 2014 policy goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels, diverted 73% of its waste from landfill and reduced growth-adjusted potable water consumption by 36% from the 2020 baseline, thereby achieving the 2025 policy goal early.”

Another major reason behind UC-Davis’ incredible successes? Students. Lloyd Knox, a physics professor at the school, says the kids got the ball rolling.

“Student activism initially stirred the university conversation about reducing our carbon emissions all the way to zero,” Knox tells the paper.

The campus was proactive and has a major head start on reducing energy, costs and environmental damage. I’d like to see where UC-Davis goes from here.

The second report comes from Minnesota’s state government. On Feb. 3, Gov. Mark Dayton announced the “25 by ‘25” Water Quality Goal, hoping to spur innovation and collaboration on strategies to improve the water quality by 25% in the state of 10,000 lakes by the year 2025. This measure now goes to the Minnesota Legislature.

Water quality and conservation goals can be achieved with your participation.

In the broadest terms, Dayton’s efforts to improve water quality across the state by 25% would help the Mississippi River reduce levels of phosphorous by 12% in 2025 and nitrogen by 45% by 2040. 

Dayton made the announcement at the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board’s annual conference in St. Paul to applause from the audience, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. The paper also notes that Dayton and supporters of his plan have a long road ahead.

Reporter Jennifer Bjorhus writes: “Dayton was short on strategies for achieving the new goal, which he described as a grassroots ‘call to action’ — as opposed to a regulation. He said local communities must assess their own particular water problems and consider solutions, adding that he plans to hold a series of public meetings around the state this year where staff will gather recommendations that he will present to the 2018 Legislature.”

Elements of Dayton’s plan include:

  • A $214 million investment from the state’s Clean Water Fund, which will be used to support local government efforts to lower water pollution and guard groundwater and drinking water resources.

  • After a 2015 bipartisan effort, Minnesota began a new effort to defend and improve water quality. The Dayton plan would invest $40 per acre to provide direct payments to farmers implementing water-quality buffers on their land.

The governor has declared a “Year of Water Action” and wants his constituents to ponder their water usage, make the best consumer choice and talk to others about clean water preservation and protection.

For readers from Minnesota who believe in the governor’s plan, it’s time to get to work.