Minnesota Report

Listening to the discussion over the need for water mitigation in rural communities is a direct result of herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizer usage. As we learn more about this issue, we are surprised by the absence of any discussion about the causes leading to these needs, and how the entire state is being called upon to stem a problem clearly the result of chemical agricultural use.

As we reflect on the Senate Capital Investment hearings of the previous weeks and see how small rural communities are seeking statewide support for their water treatment facilities and sewer systems because of large amounts of “non-point-source” chemical problems. Testifiers discuss, the high levels of arsenic, nitrites, nitrates, and other chemicals that exist in the municipal water supply, not to mention what remains unknown in the wells in the same jurisdictions.

The impact of this pollution is experienced in both the drinking water these communities consume and in the “treated” wastewater they return to the water system and others receive downstream. One would think, expressing some fault and acknowledging the impact on the downstream communities is warranted. To us, this means, like tobacco, opioid addiction, the 3M PFAS/PFC (Forever Chemicals)water contamination settlement, and other class actions the Twin Cities should seek to recoup costs from the agricultural petrochemical industry for its water treatment obligations and Iowa should seek the same regarding the chemical usage upstream from their state as well as all other states downstream.

People should remember the reason for wastewater treatment is a public health issue and is mandated by the state and federal governments, and if this regulation did not exist some places might not act accordingly, especially in a laissez-faire or unregulated free-market economic system.

Various communities in Greater Minnesota, represented by Republican legislators have come hat-in-hand before the Capital Investment committee, but these same legislators were unwilling to support the previous bonding bill, which largely was the agreed to bill from the 2022 legislative session. As we discussed previously, and in a review of the projects and their respective legislative sponsors, we see a continuing trend. This list of those Senators with their hands out and the same who did not vote for the Bonding Bill, HF670 vote on 03/06/2023.

Here are Republican-carried bills which were brought before Senate Capital Investment regarding water quality on 03/07/2023 and 03/09/2023.

Sen Bruce Anderson (R-29, Buffalo) is sponsoring legislation for the South Haven water improvements, and Monticello water treatment plant and accompanying water treatment infrastructure.

Sen Cal Bahr (R-31, East Bethel) Ramsey water treatment plant appropriation; sales and use tax exemption for construction, and Andover contaminant mitigation.

Assistant Minority Leader Sen Julia Coleman (R-48, Waconia) Cologne wastewater treatment facility.

Sen Gary Dahms (R-15, Redwood Falls) authored three bills for New Ulm gravity sewer flow system, Red Rock Water system, Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System, and

Sen Glen Dornik (R-23, Brownsdale), three projects Austin wastewater treatment facility improvements, Albert Lea wastewater treatment facility improvements.

Sen Rich Draheim (R-22, Madison Lake) three bills for Lewisville water and wastewater infrastructure, Blue Earth water filtration, and Elysian water treatment plant.

Sen Steve Drazkowski (R-20, Mazeppa) one bill for Goodhue County new regional wastewater treatment facility.

Sen Robert Farnsworth (R-07, Hibbing) three bills for Floodwood water and sewer infrastructure bond issue and appropriation, Gilbert water treatment plant, and Buhl appropriation to provide expanded water service.

Sen Glen Gruenhagen (R-17, Glencoe) authored three bills New Germany expanded wastewater treatment facility, and Watertown new water, and Silver Lake stormwater, wastewater, and drinking water infrastructure.

Assistant Minority Leader Sen Karin Housley (R-33, Stillwater) one for Scandia wastewater infrastructure.

Assistant Minority Leader Sen John Jasinski (R-19, Faribault) two locals bills and pilot for Owatonna wastewater infrastructure improvements, Waseca clean water infrastructure, and Water improvement pilot project is a bill for three communities Fergus Falls, Rice County, and Blue Earth County.

Sen Andrew Lang (R-16, Olivia) has the authored the Lake Lillian water infrastructure replacement and street reconstruction, and Willmar water treatment facility.

Sen Warren Limmer (R-37, Maple Grove) the Corcoran drinking water infrastructure

Sen Eric Lucero (R-30, St Michael) the St. Michael wastewater treatment system improvements.

Sen Andrew Matthews (R-27, Princeton) the Baldwin Township wastewater treatment plant.

Sen Carla Nelson (R-24, Rochester) the Kasson flood hazard mitigation project and public water infrastructure improvements

Sen Jason Rarick (R-11, Pine City) three bills for the Cloquet water infrastructure, and Rush Lake Shorewood Park Sanitary Sewer District sewer system expansion, and Chisago County treatment facility expansion.

Sen Paul Utke (R-05, Park Rapids) one bill for the East Gull Lake wastewater treatment improvements.

Sen Bill Weber (R- 21, Luverne), authored three bills for the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water System, Luverne connection to the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, and Tyler sanitary sewer project.

Sen Nathan Wesenberg (R-10, Little Falls) has two bills for Swanville water system and Ogilvie wastewater treatment infrastructure.

In our scrutiny of the most recent agenda for the Senate Capital Investment Committee, no Republican bills were heard on 03/21/2023. We are not sure if this is set to be the result of the failure to pass the previous Bonding Bill or not, but by our read, it is clearly likely.

It seems like Republicans want Rural Welfare, drawn from statewide resources to support and improve their bucolic lifestyle.