Water

MEP Water Cluster Contacts:

Trevor Russell, Friends of the Mississippi River, trussell@fmr.org

Tim Schaefer, Environment Minnesota, tschaefer@environmentminnesota.org

Minnesota’s waters used to be clean: safe to drink, healthy for fish, wonderful to swim in.

Today, 4 out of 10 of our water bodies are impaired. Increasing numbers of Minnesotans struggle to afford clean drinking water due to groundwater contamination. If we don’t change our trajectory, tomorrow will be even worse.

But, we have a vision, we know what we need to do, and we have a plan for getting there.

The Goal: Minnesota will Achieve 100% clean, safe, and affordable water by 2050.

All Minnesota waters should meet basic health standards — our rivers, lakes and groundwater should be healthy and all our drinking water should be 100% safe to drink.

How to Get There:

We can enact some simple but effective policy changes now to make sure Minnesota gets on the right track for clean water.

  • Adjust the Safe Drinking Water Fee, a small but powerful funding source which allows the Minnesota Department of Health to test water sources and infrastructure around the state and make sure they’re being kept safe and clean.
  • Cut salt pollution of our lakes through a simple “Smart Salt” training and certification program to make sure that salt applicators are keeping travelers and our waters safe by using the right amount of salt for roads and walkways – not too little for travelers, and not too much for our waters.
  • Reduce the flushing of non-flushable wipes through accurate labeling. The flushing of wipes labeled falsely as flushable is a costly problem for wastewater treatment systems. Making sure that all “flushable” wipes live up to their name would ease this burden on community wastewater treatment.
  • Renew the Legislative Water Commission, which helps inform and engage with legislators to tackle our biggest water challenges. The Commission will sunset soon, and a bill to extend it will help our state make progress on these critical issues.

We can invest in programs that are win-wins for our water, soil, farmers, and climate.

  • The University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Program is developing crops that protect our waters. This program is developing crops, like Kernza and field pennycress, that keep living cover on our land all year round, absorbing fertilizer pollution that can make people sick when it enters the groundwater. These crops also store carbon dioxide, hold together healthy soil, and are increasingly finding opportunities to make profits for farmers. We should provide this program with more funding to reach its full potential.
  • The Working Lands Drinking Water Protection Program will connect these crops to markets, helping farmers plant and sale new and existing conservation crops. This will help directly improve water quality and provide farmers with new sources of income.
  • We should continue support for traditional investments in water infrastructure upgrades, land conservation, and the Clean Water Fund created by voters via the Legacy Amendment.

RESOURCES

2019 MEP Briefing Book

MEP 2019 From Field to Faucet Report

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