U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy came to St. Paul on Wednesday to tout how the Twin Cities area is managing its water supply, pointing to strong state and local support for clean water.
The visit was part of a multistate tour in which McCarthy is rallying support for a new federal proposal detailing how agencies should protect their rivers and wetlands.
"It is all good news here," McCarthy said. "[There] is a culture here that recognizes the value, and they're willing to invest in doing the newest things and doing cutting-edge work."
Against the backdrop of St. Paul's water treatment plant, the EPA administrator applauded the Twin Cities' approaches to improving its water supply, noting that other areas across the country are less inclined to adapt new technology and spend money for new infrastructure.
"We're very, very proud that the quality of water that we have in St. Paul continues to improve," St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said during a news conference. "There are many regions in parts of the country that simply can't take water for granted."
Nearly 80 percent of the area's drinking water comes from the Mississippi River.
White House officials are reviewing a proposal drafted by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would update and clarify the main federal guidelines that govern water pollution, which are contained in the Clean Water Act.
"We are talking about the public health of our families, our communities and the economic vitality of [states]," McCarthy said.
Hours before her water facility visit, McCarthy said she had a meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton, where the two discussed their different work to keep water flowing cleanly at both the state and federal levels.
As she continues her visits to states, McCarthy is heading to Dallas and Chicago with the same mission of promoting further infrastructure spending and educational programming to avoid the destruction of rivers and streams.
Jessica Lee is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune. Reach her at 701-425-2302.