By Steve Weisman
Here we are pushing the end of July and we’re only two weeks away from the Okoboji Blue Water Festival. What a day Saturday, August 13 promises to be with fun and educational opportunities for all ages. It’s the perfect place to take the entire family on a West Okoboji Saturday afternoon.
So many things to do and to see! That’s why the Festival activities run from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the Claudettes taking the stage at 7 p.m. and the great Boz Scaggs highlighting the evening’s festivities at 9 p.m.
One of the most meaningful events of the day will take place from 3:30-5:30 p.m. with a panel of distinguished guests discussing a most important topic: Water Quality. The event will take place under the big tent in the green space next to Bob’s Drive Inn. Joe McGovern, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will be the moderator for the panel discussion. Here is the list of speakers:
- Chuck Gipp, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
- Sean McMahon, executive director of the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance
- Jennifer Terry, Des Moines Water Works
- Keith Schilling, University of Iowa hydro-science engineer
- Susan Heathcote, Water Program Director for the Iowa Environmental Council
- Jonathan Gano, Des Moines Public Works Director
McGovern will introduce the panelists, who will each have three to four minutes to give some background information about themselves. After introductions, McGovern will set the stage for the discussion.
Obviously, the topic will be clean water, and the panel will discuss their thoughts on the big picture: why water quality matters in Iowa today. What is each panelist’s view on water and water quality? Is there a tug of war about this topic?
In a recent interview, McGovern shared his excitement for the panel discussion. “Thanks to this diverse group of panelists for coming together to talk about this important topic. I think this will be a meaningful discussion and is very important for all Iowans. I hope that we get a lot of people to take the time to not only come, but to participate and share their thoughts. When we talk water quality, everybody has a different view, and everybody plays a part. To succeed, however, we need to work together and develop a comprehensive solution.”
According to Greg Drees, organizer of the Okoboji Blue Water Festival, “We are so fortunate to have such a diverse group of speakers comprise our panel to discuss the most important water quality issues facing us in the Iowa Great Lakes and across the state. They will tackle vital and often controversial subjects, yet the emphasis is on how we bring urban and rural partners together to face water quality challenges.”