Austin Utilities partners with Cedar River Watershed District at Taste of Nations

Published 9:02 am Friday, April 5, 2019

Austin Utilities (AU) will partner with the Cedar River Watershed District to offer free water tasting to attendees of the annual Taste of Nations event Saturday at Austin’s Packer Arena.

Water-related booths at Taste of Nations — a celebration of cultural diversity — is an early start to the upcoming We Are Water MN statewide traveling exhibit that will be in Austin from April 27-June 16 at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.

Austin Utilities, CRWD and the nature center are part of the local We Are Water MN planning committee along with Mower County Historical Society, Hormel Foods Corp., Discover Austin and Riverland Community College.

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At Taste of Nations, communities in Austin will gather for a food and entertainment festival. Water will be sampled at a Water Bar display. Water Bar is a Minneapolis-based studio tap water bar that serves water to its patrons for free. The purpose of this is to create a space for conversation about the local drinking water and our relationships to our drinking water.

Austin Utilities provides drinking water to its residents from a groundwater source: eight wells ranging from 110 to 1,075 feet deep that draw water from the Prairie Du Chien-Jordan, Spillville, and St. Peter aquifers. The water provided to customers meets current drinking water standards for the MN Department of Health. Austin’s water quality is especially high due to the depth of the wells and the quality of the source; therefore, there is little need for treatment.

Austin Utilities will offer free reusable cloth bags to visitors on Saturday with the message, “Austin water is good water” translated into several languages. They will be speaking to the community about where Austin drinking water comes from, how it is treated and that the local drinking water is safe. Included will be a poster of the groundwater cross-section of Austin to show where Austin’s water supply comes from.

Part of this effort is to reach those in the community who purchase bottled water instead of using local tap water or believe they need to boil the water to make it safe before consuming later.

The partnership is in conjunction with We Are Water, a traveling exhibit that explores the connections between the humanities and water. The exhibit includes state and local water topics and water stories from local people and will be hosted at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center from April 27 to June 16. It is a partnership of the Minnesota Humanities Center, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Departments of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources and is supported by the Arts & Cultural Heritage Legacy Amendment from the state of Minnesota. Local partnerships include the Cedar River Watershed District, the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, Hormel Foods, Mower County Historical Society, Riverland Community College and Austin Utilities. The traveling display was secured by the Cedar River Watershed District.