The state’s Clean Water Fund was established to achieve Minnesota’s vision for clean and sustainable water. Funding comes from 33% of the Outdoor Heritage Legacy sales tax that is dedicated to clean water, parks and trails, and arts and cultural heritage.
The Clean Water Council’s recommendations for FY16-17 reflect a greater priority for on-the-ground programs that will achieve the most significant water quality improvement. This biennium’s recommendations total $221.6 million.
The recommendations include 14% of the Clean Water Fund ($31.2 million) be dedicated to drinking water and groundwater protection programs, far above the 5% state mandated minimum. Monitoring and assessing surface water is recommended to receive 11% of the fund ($24.1 million).
By far the largest chunk of the fund is recommended to go toward on-the-ground projects that reduce point and nonpoint source pollution. The Council noted that this section would receive 61% of the fund allocations, a 9% increase over the past biennium. Reducing pollution through on-the-ground programs like upgrading wastewater infrastructure, planting native buffers, restoring eroding stream banks, and implanting conservation tillage is expected to achieve the best outcomes in clean water.
Council speakers at the Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Committee hearing did mention they would like to raise the importance level of the prevention piece of water quality. The speakers said prevention is an important piece of preserving our state’s water, but it can be hard to quantify and measure its impact.