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Governor Dayton Calls for a Year of Safe Water Action in Minnesota

4/15/2016 1:16:47 PM

At State of Water Conference today in Alexandria, Governor calls on all Minnesotans to take action to improve water quality in Minnesota
Water Action Week to begin Monday, April 18, 2016; Governor calling on all Minnesotans to take individual actions to improve water quality statewide
ALEXANDRIA, MN – At the Freshwater Society’s 2016 State of Water Conference today in Alexandria, Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton called for a Year of Safe Water Action in Minnesota. Starting this summer, Governor Dayton and his Administration will begin a statewide, year-long push to inform Minnesotans about the serious challenges facing Minnesota’s waters, gather input and ideas to address those challenges, and propose legislation to be considered in the 2017 Legislative Session to improve the quality of water in our state for generations to come.
“It is no longer responsible for us to look the other way, or ignore the facts of what is happening around us. They did that in Flint, Michigan. It is my responsibility – and it is all Minnesotans’ responsibilities – to assure that catastrophe is not repeated here in Minnesota,” said Governor Dayton. “I want Minnesotans to spend the next year focused on the problems facing our waters, and on developing solutions to them. So I am proclaiming that the year beginning on July 4, 2016, be a ‘Year of Safe Water Action’ in Minnesota. I want all of us to ask what can we do, everywhere, to broaden public awareness about the quality of our water, recognize the responsibility we all have for it, and determine what we can all do, working together, to make it better.”
During his remarks, Governor Dayton announced that his office will be reaching out, over the next several months, to gather ideas and input for the Year of Safe Water Action, which will begin on the 4th of July. Full audio of Governor Dayton’s remarks at today’s State of Water Conference, during which he laid out his vision for a Year of Safe Water Action in Minnesota, is available online.
Water Action Week Kicks Off Monday
The Governor’s call for a Year of Safe Water Action in Minnesota comes just before Minnesota kicks off Water Action Week, beginning Monday, April 18th. Governor Dayton and key members of his Administration will kick off Water Action Week at a Capitol news conference on Monday. Throughout the week, Governor Dayton and members of his Cabinet will visit school classrooms, water treatment facilities, research institutions, and farms to encourage Minnesotans to learn more about the challenges facing Minnesota’s waters, and empower every individual to take actions in their own lives to be part of the solution.
Governor Dayton announced the Water Action Week at his Water Summit earlier this year, which brought together a broad group of stakeholders to address water quality challenges in all regions of the state. Throughout Water Action Week, Governor Dayton and key members of his Administration will travel across Minnesota to focus attention on resources and actions that can help protect and preserve Minnesota’s water.
Water Quality & Infrastructure Investments
During his remarks today, Governor Dayton also highlighted his $220 million proposal to begin repairing and replacing Minnesota’s aging clean drinking water systems. The Dayton-Smith plan would help Minnesota communities afford the cost of replacing aging clean water infrastructure that was built decades ago. Without state assistance, it is estimated that Minnesotans in these communities could see their water and sewer bills double or even triple to cover the cost of necessary improvements, making it challenging for communities to keep and attract residents and businesses. Their plan would also invest in water quality protection initiatives statewide. Below is a breakdown of how the Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith’s $220 million in proposed funding would be allocated.
  • Point Source Implementation Grant Program – Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith’s plan would invest $62 million in the Point Source Implementation Grant Program, to help lift the burden off local communities to pay for treatment plant upgrades to address water quality restoration and protection goals.
  • Water Infrastructure Funding Program – The Governor and Lt. Governor’s proposal would provide $80 million to the Water Infrastructure Funding Program to increase aid to communities rehabilitating aging wastewater and drinking water infrastructure systems. Grant funding is based on the average household income of residents and is designed to keep clean water affordable for Minnesotans.
  • Clean Water & Drinking Water Revolving Funds – To help local governments update essential clean water and drinking water projects to serve residents and businesses, Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith’s Jobs Bill includes $25 million in funding to match federal grants for affordable, low-interest loans.
  • Keeping Clear Water out of Wastewater – The Governor and Lt. Governor’s plan would allocate $5 million for an inflow/infiltration grant program at the Metropolitan Council. The initiative provides matching grants to local governments to keep clear water from entering the municipal wastewater system, which can overwhelm and back up these systems, causing untreated wastewater to enter our lakes and streams.
  • Buffer Reimbursements – Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith’s plan would invest $30 million in the Reinvest in Minnesota Reserve program, which works with farmers and private landowners to restore and protect water quality in the implementation of the new buffer law passed last session. The state funds will leverage up to $120 million in federal dollars and is part of a five year 100,000 acre clean water effort.
  • Wetland Replacement – To replace an estimated 300 acres of wetlands that are lost due to road construction across the state, the Governor and Lt. Governor’s Jobs Bill includes a proposed $5 million investment in the Local Government Roads Wetlands Replacement Program.
About Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith’s Plan
MAP: See where Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith’s proposed investments in clean water infrastructure would be. [Link]
LIST: Look up clean water infrastructure projects by city. [Link]
FACT SHEET: Get a quick look at Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith’s proposed investments in clean water infrastructure, and why they matter. [Link]
SUMMARY: Read more about the clean water infrastructure public meetings that were held across Minnesota, and the input received by the Administration. [Link]

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