The WATER Foundation was an award winner at the 1999 Minnesota Governor’s Award presentations. The first award, officially known as “The Ninth Annual Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Waste and Pollution Prevention” recognizes innovative businesses, organizations, institutions, and public agencies that demonstrate a superior commitment to waste and pollution prevention, source reduction and resource conservation. The second award given to The WATER Foundation was the Minnesota Waste Wise Smart Business Award. Given later the same day by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, it honors The WATER Foundation as a role model for other businesses in the mission that “less waste is smart business for a better environment.”

Governor Jesse Ventura recognized The WATER Foundation (and four other winners) who, in his words, “demonstrate that environmental protection goes hand-in-hand with economic benefits”. Ventura expressed his appreciation of our “results oriented approach to protecting our state’s precious natural resources.” And credited these efforts with being the reason why “Minnesota leads the nation with a strong economy and healthy environment.” He ended by encouraging those at the award ceremony to, “take this opportunity to educate the kids and adults in your community about waste and pollution prevention!” The Governor also told the story about how protecting wetlands in his backyard initially got him into government as mayor of Brooklyn Center, MN. (Picture: Gov. Ventura presents the award to David Winkelman, president of The WATER Foundation.)

The primary reason for the Governors Award is The WATER Foundation’s new building complex called the HOP Shop Center, which serves as headquarters for its staff, studios and Conservation Marketing™ business. To summarize the goal of the building, “The mission is to teach conservation of natural resources through practical products and programs.” The buildings were designed to have a zero impact on the environment by using the sun, the wind and the earth as energy sources. Constructed using some of the latest, as well as some time-tested technologies to conserve energy, materials and water, the domes burn no fuel, pollute no water and produce no unnatural air emissions. The staff, an average of twelve employees year round, produces only about two cubic feet of universal waste per week. The headquarters is open to free tours on the third Friday of each month to share with others the concept that a zero impact building, while designed to serve the highest expectations of conservation, can also be a comfortable, beautiful, yet practical building.

The HOP Shop Center is a showcase for environmental options in building, heating, lighting, recycling and efficient yet beautiful design. The domes feature two types of composting toilets, a greywater system, solar and wind-generated electricity, geo-thermal heat pump technology, radiant floor heating, a variety of recycled and efficient building materials, energy-efficient appliances and lighting and geodesic dome construction techniques.

David Challenging Gov. VenturaDuring the award presentation, Water Foundation President David Winkelman, challenged award presenter Governor Jesse Ventura to help Minnesota become a true leader in environmental issues, especially water quality. “In 1998, according to our own Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 47% of our state septic systems have failed. Almost half of Minnesota’s lakes have warnings about not eating the fish taken from them.” Winkelman said. The Governor accepted the challenge publicly, so The WATER Foundation plans to keep this process flowing through governmental and political channels.