Minnesota’s Clean Water Council recently announced their recommendations for how sales tax money dedicated to cleaning up and protecting water should be spent. The recommendations for 2016/2017 show a priority for on-the-ground programs that will directly impact water quality.
The Freshwater Society finds a lot to like in the Clean Water Council’s recommendations. Many of Minnesota’s toughest challenges to our water resources require landscape level changes to address. The heightened focus on programs that make changes on-the-ground is both welcome and necessary to ensure limited public funds have the most impact on our water quality.
The Clean Water Council recommendations break out by category to:
Freshwater Society has worked with the Clean Water Council during the development of their recommendations and is happy to see several items receive attention. Of note are,
- The CREP III program which will leverage other federal and state funds to permanently protect critical acres which are poised to leave federal conservation programs and re-enter row crop production,
- Funding for critical research into alternative crops that will diversify our landscape,
- Funding that increases on-the-ground work and increased local government’s capacity to protect or restore water quality
We look forward to continued improvements to how the Clean Water Fund is deployed in order to more effectively protect, restore and enhance our lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. In particular,
- Increased funding for technologies necessary to diversify our agricultural landscapes,
- Increased flexibility in funds for conservation work on agricultural lands so they can be used at the time key decisions are made,
- Increased local capacity to work directly with landowners to expand the implementation of conservation measures protecting water,
- Better targeting and prioritization of on-the-ground work,
- Increased accountability for local governments to do effective water resource planning,
- A shift of funding from creating plans to implementing plans once the first round of Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies are completed.