Water storage program included in final environment deal

St. Paul, MN—“Freshwater’s work in St. Paul has led to bipartisan support for a state water storage program, particularly targeted to the Minnesota River Basin,” said Freshwater’s Executive Director John Linc Stine. “The work on the ground in the basin gave us the tools we needed to get this over the line at the Capitol.”

After weeks of negotiation, the Minnesota Legislature has reached an agreement on a budget and policy changes for Minnesota’s environmental agencies, as well as the 2020 and 2021 LCCMR bills. SF 20, the Omnibus Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy bill, passed the Senate on Tuesday, June 22, by a vote of 49-16. It passed the House on June 25 by a vote of 99-34. Included in the final bill is a program to provide farmers with financial support to temporarily hold water back on the land. The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) will receive $1 million in FY 2021 and FY 2022 to fund this water storage program.

A consensus in the Minnesota River Valley has coalesced around the policy of water storage, helping landowners hold back water with a menu of options that fit their land such as wetland restorations, perennial cover crops, and increasing soil water-holding capacity.

“Stakeholders in the Minnesota River Basin have been studying the issue of water storage for years, and we are so pleased to give them the good news that there is going to be a state water storage program,” said Freshwater’s Research and Policy Director Carrie Jennings, who holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in geology. “The science of water storage is well documented in the Minnesota River Basin, and we know what projects and structures need to go where to have the best impact. The communities, landowners, and agribusiness leaders in the basin support this policy, knowing full well that it will benefit both themselves and everyone downstream. These stakeholders, as well as agency staff and our legislative authors deserve the thanks for making this program a possibility.”

Gov. Tim Walz signed SF 20 on June 29 and it will go into effect on July 1, 2021.

Freshwater is grateful for the continued work on this issue by Rep. Todd Lippert (DFL-Northfield), Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood), Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-SStPaul), Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne), Sen. Nick Frentz (DFL-Mankato), and Sen. Bill Ingebrightsen (R-Alexandria).


About Freshwater

Freshwater’s mission is to inspire and empower people to value and preserve our freshwater resources. Since 1968, Freshwater has been a leading public nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving freshwater resources, their surrounding watersheds, and drinking water. For more information, please visit freshwater.org. To see other press releases, visit freshwater.org/in-the-media.

For more information contact

Dr. Carrie Jennings: (612)-718-1415
Judy Erickson: (612)-961-5158

Photo to accompany story

Download Lake Pepin photo (photo credit: Carrie Jennings)