Updated:
Original:

Hundreds of people rally to tell lawmakers: We're worried about our water

40 percent of the lakes, rivers, groundwater and streams in Minnesota are said to be impaired or polluted.

About 40 percent of the lakes, rivers, groundwater and streams in Minnesota are considered impaired or polluted, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says.

And people who are concerned about how to improve that figure, and protect the water that's still clean, gathered at the Capitol in St. Paul Wednesday as part of Water Action Day.

Hundreds of people filled the rotunda to show support for clean water efforts, and hear from speakers including Gov. Mark Dayton, Honor the Earth's Winona LaDuke, and polar explorer/Minnesota-born badass Ann Bancroft.

What's the concern?

There is worry from these clean water supporters that some bills currently being considered by lawmakers would impact water quality, in a bad way, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership said in an email news release.

For example, the Clean Water Fund – money that gets set aside via the (voter-approved) Legacy Fund that's specifically to be spent on ways to "protect, enhance, and restore" Minnesota's waters. (Whether the fund has made an impact on the waters yet, it's too early to say, a recent audit found.)

As The Associated Press reports, Republican lawmakers are pushing to have money taken out of that Clean Water Fund, and are also looking at fiddling with water quality standards. Republicans have also accused Dayton of pushing his environmental agenda through state agencies, rather than achieving things legislatively, the AP notes.

So the people who showed up to the Capitol Wednesday were there to ask lawmakers to "fully fund environmental protection, stop environmental rollbacks, safeguard the Clean Water Fund, and respect sound science and public participation," Minnesota Environmental Partnership says.

The governor has a stake, too

Water quality has been a big focus for Dayton, a Democrat. His big legislative push a buffer law, which requires land to be between public waters and things like farm fields. It was tweaked in 2016 to exempt private ditches and waters, after criticisms.

Last August he said there would be a Year of Water Action in Minnesota, and urged people to rethink water usage, make informed consumer choices, and talk to others about clean water protection and preservation.

Since that time, he's brought Minnesota into a federal program that will provide $350 million in funding for clean water, and also proposed a plan that he says would make Minnesota's waters 25 percent cleaner by 2025. That new plan would need to be approved by state lawmakers – and right now, Republicans have a majority in the state House and Senate.

So how will this play out?

Long story short, Dayton has put a lot of political effort into water protections. It's been a centerpiece of his second term in many ways. And remember, the governor has to sign a bill the House and Senate both pass in order for it to become law.

If a bill gets to Dayton that includes serious cuts to water protection programs – programs Dayton himself has likely touted and fought for – he could look to veto them.

And while GOP lawmakers have a majority in the House and Senate, they don't have the two-thirds required to override a Dayton veto. Meaning the only way the veto gets nullified is if some Democrats vote against the governor, and with Republicans.

The legislative session ends on May 22, so bills have to get passed by then.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-10-21 at 5.14.36 PM

Mayor Carter announces COVID vaccine mandate for St. Paul city workers

It comes after Minneapolis announced the requirement for vaccines or regular testing for city workers in September.

two twelve medical center chaska GSV

Ridgeview cutting hours at 2 Minnesota urgent care locations

Hours of operation at a third location are also being shifted earlier.

Flickr - QFamily - Ben Jerrys

Latest to wade into Mpls. Question 2 debate is ... Ben & Jerry's?

The ice cream business said it supports the creation of a Department of Public Safety.

mickey moore driver's license shared

Mpls. candidate tries to 'set the record straight' about where he lives

Questions about Ward 9 candidate Mickey Moore's residency are quickly piling up.

Screen Shot 2021-10-21 at 1.49.16 PM

COVID-19 case rate drops in 51 of 87 Minnesota counties

Four of the 10 lowest case rates are metro-area counties.

unsplash - visitor patient doctor hospital emergency - crop

Allina mental health workers vote to unionize

Concerns over safety led the workers to unionize.

teacher, coronavirus, covid-19, school, classroom

Minnesota reports COVID deaths of teen student, 2 school staffers

Cases in schools rose again in the past week, though there are signs cases may have peaked.

Proctor football

Investigation of alleged misconduct on Proctor football team nears conclusion

The football team canceled its season and the coach subsequently resigned.

minnesota house of representatives

Minnesota House will continue hybrid operations, require masks in 2022

The Speaker of the House announced the plans in a memo to members and staff on Thursday.

Related

What MN's lawmakers have said about the EPA, Trump's executive order

A look at MInnesota's U.S. senators and representatives, and their comments on the environment.

Feds will give MN $350M to protect lakes, rivers, and groundwater

Dayton says more than 40 percent of the state's waters are impaired or polluted.

Lawmakers move to protect Minnesotans from ISPs freely selling their internet data

The Minnesota amendment would require ISPs to get your written permission before collecting data.

Minneapolis will try for $15 minimum wage – right after lawmakers moved to block it

The city is starting the new minimum wage process hours after state lawmakers passed a bill to block them from doing just that.

Hey, lawmakers finally figured out that Real ID thing

Even Andrew Zimmern is relieved they finally approved it.

What you should know about the 2 abortion bills approved by the MN House

What the bills do, arguments for and against them, and what needs to happen for them to become law.

Comparing the tax cut plans from Republican lawmakers and Gov. Dayton

GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have offered up big tax cuts. The governor's tax cut plan isn't as large.