In the land of 10,000 lakes, water is truly part of who we are.

But how are we doing when it comes to protecting this most basic of natural resources?

It seems like daily there are news reports about the spread of aquatic invasive species, a new threat to groundwater or proposed new policies that could impact how we all are able to enjoy our lakes and rivers. And for anyone who leads even a marginally busy life, staying on top of all these developments can be a real challenge.

That is part of the reasoning behind the first of what organizers hope will be a biennial State of Water Conference.

Building off the success of previous water summits hosted by Minnesota Waters, the 2014 State of Water conference will bring together many of the primary agencies and organizations who protect our waters with groups who utilize our water resources to host a dialogue on the future of water in Minnesota.

Given the number of threats we face today, be it from invasive aquatic species, expanding mining, agriculture or simple development, it is important that the state create a roadmap for addressing these issues and start working together to create a plan for a sustainable future. And on the first two days of May this year, those stakeholders will gather at Cragun's on Gull Lake to do just that.

The conference will feature speakers from the Department of Natural Resources, Pollution Control Agency and Board of Water and Soil Resources as well as a number of lake and river organizations and other interested parties. In all the two-day summit will include 35 break out sessions across topics ranging from aquatic invasive species and watersheds to local activity opportunities and restoring aquatic habitat.

Partnering to co-sponsor this event are the Freshwater Society, the DNR, MPCA, University of Minnesota Extension, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership and Conservation Minnesota. More information on the event is available at

Registration for the conference began earlier this week. The number of available registration slots is limited, so be sure to register early to guarantee a seat at the table for this very important discussion on the future of water in this state.