ST. CLOUD -- Nearly 1,500 operation specialists and industry officials are in St. Cloud this week for the 33rd Annual Water & Wastewater Conference at the River's Edge Convention Center.

It comes on the heels of Governor Mark Dayton's push to address aging water treatment systems, impaired lakes and polluted drinking wells.

Minnesota Rural Water Association Executive Director Ruth Hubbard says there are often no warning signs for these failing systems...

A lot of what is involved with the water and wastewater systems is under the earth.  You just can't see it.  And, those pipes and that infrastructure is failing.  When that fails, it is a public health issue.

And, Hubbard says the improvements to these treatment systems are costly...

You know you have a water utility, you have a wastewater utility and in most cases you have a storm water utility.  So, you're looking at three different entities that have to be upgraded.

Governor Dayton is calling 2017 a "Year of Water Action." He says Minnesota is $11-billion behind in just maintaining our aging water treatment and delivery systems over the next 20 years.  Dayton says many of the state's water treatment systems are in serious disrepair and initial testing indicates 60% of private wells in central Minnesota may not provide safe drinking water.

Hubbard says the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act require oversight on treatment systems and ensure safe drinking water for Minnesotans.