Governor to continue water quality series in Minneapolis

Gov. Mark Dayton will continue his town hall meeting series on water quality Sept. 27 at the Minneapolis Urban League.

Dayton plans on using the meeting to hear the concerns people have about the state’s water quality and ideas they have to improve it, according to a report. It comes as he promotes his initiative to improve water Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025.

More than 40 percent of Minnesota’s lakes and streams don’t meet standards for safe swimming, fishing or drinking, according to a state report. About 5 percent of the state’s lakes are infested with invasive species.

About 43 percent of lakes in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area do not meet aquatic recreation standards for fishing and swimming, according to the report. In addition, Mississippi River water no longer meets river life and recreation standards when it reaches the Twin Cities.

“Without an ambitious, achievable goal, the quality of our water will continue to deteriorate,” Dayton said in a statement. “Minnesotans must set this goal now, and then work together to achieve it. I ask all Minnesotans to join me in finding solutions that will ensure our children and grandchildren inherit clean water to drink, swim, and fish in. This is everyone’s challenge, and everyone’s responsibility.”

The state would need to take “aggressive, yet achievable action” to meet the 25-percent goal, according to a news release. Action would help Minnesota meet its commitments to reduce phosphorus 12 percent by 2025 and nitrogen 45 percent by 2040 in the Mississippi River.

The state’s water quality is expected to improve only 6 to 8 percent by 2034 without additional action, according to the release.

Hundreds of people have attended seven previous town halls in greater Minnesota, according to media reports. Dayton has participated in small-group discussions at the events, which have also included state commissioners.

The “25×25” plan would not add new regulations, according to the news release. Instead it would “drive public engagement and partnership” to address water-quality challenges.

Dayton has already proposed several initiatives to improve water quality, including spending $214 million to support local government efforts to reduce nutrient pollution and protect sensitive groundwater and drinking water. In January 2017, he signed an agreement to provide $350 million in federal funding to Minnesota farmers, while working to protect waters across the state.

Dayton has also proposed water quality buffer aid payments for farmers, a water-infrastructure funding program and a point-source-implementation grant program.

Registration for the town hall begins at 5:30 p.m., and the event will start at 6:30 p.m. Visit https://mn.gov/governor/issues/25by25mn/ for more information.

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