Protecting Our Precious Local Water Resources

It’s water issues non-stop here at the Capitol. Over the past few weeks, I sat down with representatives from many different environmental groups and clean-water agencies. I learned valuable District 42-related information about the quality of our natural resources as well as the decreasing water levels of our area lakes.
In the north suburban area, we have many lakes losing water. For instance, White Bear Lake has seen a dramatic reduction in elevation during the past years. The suspected reason for this decrease is an increase in water pumping permitting. Currently, a non-monetary suit is being brought against the MN DNR to address the problem. According to the 1971 MN Environmental Rights Act, a complaint can be made with the belief that there would be destruction or impairment of a body of water, not just on the basis of destruction already suffered.
To help respond to this problem and similar issues affecting Turtle Lake and Snail Lake, I am co-authoring Senate File 108. The bill forms a contract between the MN DNR and the US Geological Survey. This contract directs the US Geological Survey to collect water quality and lake water outflow data to use with optimization techniques. From this data, the Survey will determine lake water contribution to wells and the best removal scenarios for public wells near lakes in the northeast Twin Cities. By November 15 of each year of the contract, the Survey will report its progress to the DNR commissioner with a final report due July 15, 2016.
Funding for this project will come from the Clean Water Fund, which is managed by the Clean Water Council—a group to which I was recently appointed.
The Clean Water Council is a group entrusted with the authority to make recommendations on behalf of the governor to the legislature on how funds should be allocated to meet the goals and priorities of the Clean Water Legacy Act (CWLA). The vision of the CWLA is to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams and to protect groundwater from degradation.
I am honored to be a member of the Clean Water Council and I know that its work is integral to protecting our water resources in the northeast metro area. To help reach the Clean Water Council’s vision, my fellow council members and I are committed to fostering civic engagement and local partnerships, prioritizing recommendations and projects, communicating project outcomes and strategic research. We work with many organizations both government and private to make sure residents experience high-quality clean water.
In addition to my new role on the Clean Water Council, I am the chief author of the Public Facilities Authority agency bill. The PFA determines need for low-interest loans and grants for cities with failing wastewater treatment plants and polluted water retention ponds, some funded by CWLA funds. Since 1987, this Authority has financed more than $3.2 billion in public infrastructure projects in communities throughout Minnesota. I am dedicated to creating legislation that supports this program and enhances the environmental and economic vitality of our state.
We have many truly localized issues on the legislative table this session. Nevertheless, when it comes to our water and natural resources, we must remember the big picture and how even the smallest, local action can affect all Minnesotans.
On this and on any other issue, please contact my office. I am always happy to listen to your concerns and discover new ways to strengthen our community.

Senator Bev Scalze
Bev Scalze represents District 42, which includes portions of Ramsey County in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. She is also a business owner and artist. Sen. Scalze is the vice chair of the Capital Investment Committee.

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