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Bad Watershed Bill





To Ruin Our Watershed Districts?

Proposed legislation in 2010 could cripple our watershed districts and our ability to protect and improve our water resources. Water is unaware of political city or county boundaries. The purpose of a watershed district is to cross those boundaries and find solutions that work even when the problem is in one place and the solution in another. But legislation proposed by Sen. Ray Vandeveer and Rep. Bob Dettmer would impose artificial political boundaries. Essentially, the legislation would move budget decisions from the watershed board (people dedicated to analyzing the whole problem) to the (usually) multiple counties and their respective county commissioners (usually dozens of people who have special interests in their own counties).

[Note: This bill did not pass in 2010 but it or a version of it might surface again and this information is still relevant.]

The Red Lake Watershed District, for instance, has 10 counties! All respective county commissioners would have to be brought up-to-speed on all watershed issues and all commissioners would have to somehow magically switch hats and analyze an entire watershed instead of just their county (a highly unlikely proposition). Imagine the gridlock with this added bureaucracy! What works better to solve watershed problems? 1) use about 5 knowledgeable people familiar with the issues or 2) dozens, up to 50 or more people with little knowledge of the issues and conflicting interests of their own? The proposed legislation is exactly contrary to the purpose of a watershed district. In my opinion, if SF756 and HF 880 pass, the state may as well abolish watershed districts and forget trying to improve our water resources. (I conclude this from the perspective of a common citizen wanting improved water quality in our state.)

The MnDNR says that about 40% of waters assessed fall short of at least one water quality standard. Our water resources are in trouble. Look at the picture of Peltier Lake with its scummy smelly algae, a common sight in the summer. It is identified by the state as an “impaired water,” as are many others. It needs help that only the Rice Creek Watershed District can give it. Our watershed districts with their no-nonsense, scientifically (not politically) based  solutions are our only hope to protect and improve our neglected water resources.

The mandate of the people of Minnesota is clear with the passing of the Clean Water, Wildlife, Cultural Heritage, and Natural Areas amendment. The people want more resources devoted to preserving our environment without cutting existing programs.

Please tell Sen. Ray Vandeveer (sen.ray.vandeveer@senate.mn, 651-296-4351) and Rep. Bob Dettmer (rep.bob.dettmer@house.mn, 651-296-4124) that SF756 and HF880 from 2010 is a bad idea. For more information, visit www.PeltierLake.Org or send an e-mail to Mail@PeltierLake.Org.


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This site was last updated 04/01/13