Water

FMR is proud to be a leading voice in protecting the water of our Big River and all the people and wildlife who depend on it.

From the banks of the Mississippi to the halls of the Legislature, our Water program strives to keep you up to date on important water-quality issues. (For political animals, here are all FMR posts related to legislative advocacy.)

Blog updates are also shared on social (Facebook and Twitter) and in FMR's Mississippi Messages newsletter.

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POSTS

Bill seeks to strip MPCA and DNR rulemaking authority and sunset all existing rules

Under H.F. 551, the MPCA and DNR would no longer have any rulemaking authority and all their existing rules would expire by 2022 unless the Minnesota legislature chose to enact them. The bill likely precedes others that will seek to give the legislature veto power over agency rulemaking, a move that will deny the public a voice in regulatory decisions.

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Opponents of Minnesota's buffer law claim it's an unconstitutional taking. It's not.

Legislators and testifiers opposed to Minnesota's buffer law continue to claim that the law is unconstitutional because it constitutes a government taking of private property without just compensation to the property owner. These claims are incorrect and misleading. The law would only be unconstitutional if it denied property owners every and all reasonable use of their land.

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Our 2017 legislative priorities

Water issues will once again be a hot topic during this year's legislative session. While Gov. Mark Dayton has made water a priority, House and Senate majority parties have signaled intentions to roll back policies and funding essential to protecting Minnesota’s rivers, lakes and streams.

Without a doubt, defending against these rollbacks and securing much-needed funding for critical water infrastructure will be our top priorities during the 2017 legislative session. 

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Governor’s 2017 bonding proposal: $270 million for clean water & habitat

On January 4th, Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith announced their 2017 bonding proposal. Dubbed the “Jobs Bill,” the proposed $1.5 billion package includes much-needed investments in the Minnesota’s water resources, including drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for communities across the state. Here are some of FMR's top bonding or funding priorities. 

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Minnesota's waters need a special session

Following a hectic end to the 2016 legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned with some important work left undone. Legislative efforts to pass a transportation bill and a bonding bill failed, while a surprise $100 million wording error in a tax bill earned that piece of legislation a pocket-veto from Governor Dayton.

While the Governor has expressed support for a special session, the likelihood of such a session remains uncertain. FMR and our allies strongly encourage Governor Dayton and state legislators to reconvene to complete their work, which includes much-needed funding to protect Minnesota's water resources.

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Conjunction dysfunction: A $100 million typo may lead to a special session

After Gov. Mark Dayton's pocket veto of the tax bill, a special session appears more likely this month. The governor chose not to sign the bill as it contained a $100 million wording error (an "or" instead of an "and"), letting the clock run out and preventing it from becoming law. A June special session will be needed to correct and re-pass the essential bill, making it likely the Minnesota Legislature will also tackle important transportation and bonding business left undone, including vital funding for state water quality improvements.

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How water quality fared during the 2016 legislative session

As the 2016 legislative session came to a close, two of FMR's top legislative priorities were fully funded, the Working Lands Watershed Restoration Program and the University of Minnesota's Forever Green Initiative. Sadly, though, the bonding bill, with millions of dollars in priority funding for community drinking water and wastewater treatment upgrades, failed to pass before the clock ran out. Additionally, while the bigger-ticket items in the effort to artificially augment White Bear Lake were not approved, funds to obtain design-build proposals managed to make their way through at the last minute.
 

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Funding to augment White Bear Lake pulled from Senate but lingers in House

Water levels in White Bear Lake have fallen dramatically in the last decade, leading some to call for augmentation by pumping in water from nearby lakes, each of which is in turn backfilled by the Mississippi River. FMR has long advocated against such an expensive and uncertain system, instead promoting longer-term solutions to address the north and east metro's larger groundwater supply and demand issues. Thankfully, the author of the Minnesota Senate bill agrees and has removed all funding for augmentation while calling for investments in a more sustainable water supply for this area. Yet, $2.2 million in provisions supporting augmenting linger in the House.
 

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Fate of Working Lands & Forever Green bills to be decided this week

As the clock ticks toward adjournment Monday, May 23, the fate of FMR's top legislative priorities will be decided by a bipartisan conference committee of state senators and representatives. In the next few days, FMR will likely be asking all River Protectors and friends of the river to contact their legislators to support FMR's top priorities this session. 

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Upcoming Events

Saturday, April 20 - 9:30 AM to Noon
West River Parkway and 36th Street/44th Street, Minneapolis
Applications due Friday, May 3 by 5 p.m.
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Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
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