Safeguarding the Clean Water Fund

Three people wearing waders stand in ankle-deep water.

The Clean Water, Land & Legacy fund is critical to protecting and restoring Minnesota's natural resources, including streams like these. (Photo by FMR)

In 2008, a strong majority of Minnesotans voted to adopt the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. One-third of the state sales tax revenue derived through this Legacy Amendment is invested in clean water projects via the Clean Water Fund — the only environmental fund in Minnesota dedicated solely to reducing pollution and protecting clean water. 

The health of the Mississippi River depends upon the health of the hundreds of tributaries that feed it. The cleaner we can make these streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds, the better the Mighty Mississippi will fare.

The Clean Water Fund is pivotal to this.

Every two years, Minnesota's nonpartisan Clean Water Council works with experts from across the state to craft detailed recommendations to the Legislature on how to best invest Clean Water Fund dollars. 

The integrity of the Clean Water Fund

It is vitally important that Clean Water Fund dollars are spent wisely. In general, we support investments that:  

  • Invest in programs vs pork: Funds should remain program-based (e.g. for our statewide strategic stream monitoring program) rather than picking specific "pet projects" (e.g. extra monitoring in a specific legislative district).  
  • Avoid substitution: Clean Water Fund dollars can't be used as a substitute for traditional funding sources. These funds must be “over and above” traditional funding levels.
  • Catalyze system change: Small investments can make big impacts over time. Investments in programs such as Forever Green can lead to landscape-level transformation — the kind of change we need to achieve our clean water goals. 

Advocating for the council's recommendations

FMR deeply appreciates the Clean Water Council's work to pursue an inclusive and transparent process by soliciting public input throughout the Clean Water Fund recommendation process. While we don’t always agree with 100% of the council’s recommendations, we generally support them and believe that the council’s process produces the best possible suite of recommendations for Minnesota. 

However, there are cases where we may object to specific line items in Council’s recommendations on constitutional grounds. In the rare case where we feel specific items are better funded through traditional means rather than the Clean Water Fund, we will make that known to decision-makers. 

FMR always looks forward to working with lawmakers in both parties to ensure all constitutional recommendations are reflected in the Legislature's final appropriations. 

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Upcoming Events

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Nicollet Island, Minneapolis
New date: Saturday, August 10, 2024 at 5 p.m.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific & Natural Area, Inver Grove Heights