The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board today issued a call for legislative action that will safeguard the state’s core water programs, fund efforts to restore Minnesota’s impaired waters and protect Twin Cities water supplies.
“Minnesota’s success depends, in part, on maintaining the quality and quantity of our water resources,” said EQB Chair Bob Schroeder. “But Minnesota waters face increasing pressure from development, pollution, exotic species and growing demands for drinking water. How we protect our water resources today will determine whether Minnesota remains prosperous
tomorrow. The choice is ours.”
The Board’s priorities emphasize:
- Taking steps to preserve those core activities that make it possible for the state to protect and manage water for all Minnesotans.
- Recognizing the overriding importance of the Impaired Waters Initiative and developing consensus on a funding package that will adequately support it.
- Establishing a Twin Cities regional water supply development fund to support assessments of the region’s water resources and a plan for their wise use, security and orderly development.
The priorities are detailed in “Protecting Minnesota’s Waters: Priorities for the 2005-2007 Biennium,” which is available on the EQB web site, www.eqb.state.mn.us.
The report also summarizes six pilot projects initiated by the Governor’s Clean Water Cabinet that demonstrate how the state can work with local partners in addressing some of Minnesota’s more unique and important water problems.
The pilot projects include innovations in managing water resources in Minnesota’s north central lakes country; protecting water supplies in the Twin Cities metropolitan area; restoring wetlands and providing flood protection in the Red River’s Grand Marais Creek and Buffalo River watersheds; and tackling impaired waters in the South Fork of the Root River in southeast Minnesota.
Pollution in Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams threatens to hamper economic development, erode quality of life and damage ecosystems. In 2004, Minnesota reported 1,123 impaired bodies of water in which pollutants threaten their economic and recreational value. These numbers, while alarming, are based on an assessment of only 8 percent of the state’s river miles and 14 percent of its lakes.
In addition, the state has limited knowledge about the amount of water that can be safely withdrawn for drinking water supplies, especially from largely unmapped ground water resources. As population increases and development expands, the demand for high-quality water will magnify.
“Population pressures in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area already place great demands on this irreplaceable resource,” said Schroeder. Wise management of the region’s water supply and the demands people place on it is essential to the vitality of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
“These priorities demonstrate a commitment to protecting the economic and ecological value of Minnesota’s water resources,” Schroeder added. “We look forward to working with the Legislature in addressing them.”Minnesota Statutes
, sections 103A.201 and 103B.151, directs the Environmental Quality Board to report to the Governor and Legislature on the state’s water priorities each biennium. The Board’s priorities for the coming biennium are presented in the report, Protecting Minnesota’s Waters: priorities for the 2005-2007 Biennium