May 3, 2017
Dear Governor Mark Dayton,
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk
Capital Investment Committee Chair David Senjem
Capital Investment Committee Minority Lead Sandy Pappas
Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt
House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman
Capital Investment Committee Chair Dean Urdahl
Capital Investment Committee Minority Lead Alice Hausman
High among the priorities for this legislative session is passage of a precedent setting package of bonding initiatives to protect and restore the water across Minnesota.
The undersigned organizations call on the Legislature to reach agreement with the Governor on a bonding package that includes the full $237.4 million in funding for these important water priorities for the future of our state and our water. These are key items for the environment and conservation community. They include three line items under the Public Facilities Authority, the RIM Reserve Conservation Easements/CREP Match under the Board of Water & Soil Resources, and the St. Louis River Area of Concern Clean-Up under the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Each of these key investments will pay long-lasting dividends for the people of our state and most will leverage significant additional Federal funds.
We urge that these priorities be funded as follows:
Public Facilities Authority
Water Infrastructure: $25 million. These funds help local governments repair and modernize their aging wastewater and drinking water systems through essential clean water and drinking water projects. These projects serve the needs of residents and businesses, alike. State funds trigger Federal grants and support affordable, low-interest loans.
Wastewater Infrastructure Fund (WIF): $80 million. The Water Infrastructure Funding Program increases aid to communities rehabilitating aging wastewater and drinking water infrastructure systems. Grant funding is based on the average household income of residents and is designed to keep clean water affordable for Minnesotans.
Point Source Implementation Grants: $62 million. The Point Source Implementation Grant Program helps lift the burden off local communities’ wastewater treatment plant upgrades. Upgrading wastewater treatment plants is a tried and true method of improving water quality and making progress on water quality restoration and protection goals.
Board of Water and Soil Resources
Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve Conservation Easements for Federal CREP match: $45 million. The Reinvest in Minnesota Reserve program helps willing Minnesota farmland owners to conserve soil, eliminate erosion, protect habitat, and improve water quality. It also helps cover the cost of installing and maintaining buffers where required under the buffer law passed in 2015 and amended in 2016. State bonding at $45 million for RIM will leverage another $105 million in Federal dollars, and is part of a five year 100,000-acre clean water effort.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
St. Louis River AOC Clean Up: $25.4 million. This project will clean up contaminated sediment and industrial waste at ten locations at the St. Louis River Estuary and the Duluth harbor and bay. The state’s contribution equals 35 percent of the total project cost, and will be matched by 65 percent Federal funding equaling more than $47 million.
We thank you for all of your hard work this session, and ask your support for the above priorities to protect our water.
Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Alliance for Sustainability
Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis
Center for Biological Diversity
CURE (Clean Up the River Environment)
Friends of Minnesota Scientific & Natural Areas
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest
Friends of the Mississippi River
Institute for Local Self Reliance
Izaak Walton League – Minnesota Division
Land Stewardship Project
League of Women Voters Minnesota
Lower Phalen Creek Project
Lutheran Advocacy – Minnesota
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Minnesota Conservation Federation
Minnesota Native Plant Society
Minnesota Ornithologists Union
Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter
Pesticide Action Network
Renewing the Countryside
Save Our Sky Blue Waters
Transit for Livable Communities