Clean Water Fund dollars come from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment that Minnesotans approved in 2008. The amendment increased the sales and use tax rate by three-eighths of one percent on taxable sales from 2009 through 2034. Approximately 33% of the revenue goes into the Clean Water Fund to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater. The funds are used for water management activities such as monitoring, watershed characterization and scientific study, planning, and on-the-ground restoration and protection activities.
The Clean Water Fund Interagency Coordination Team (ICT) was formed to coordinate the use of Clean Water Fund dollars for achieving the aims of Clean Water Land and Legacy Act. The ICT includes the seven state agencies involved in protecting water quality:
- Metropolitan Council
- Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources
- Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Minnesota Department of Health
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- Minnesota Public Facilities Authority
Reporting on water quality goals
The Clean Water Legacy Act requires that the MPCA report on actions taken in Minnesota’s watersheds to meet water-quality goals and milestones. Significant updates are available by July each year, after state and federal agencies submit data from the previous calendar year.
- Status of watershed restoration and protection strategies (WRAPS) – The MPCA and its partners prepare WRAPS reports for each watershed to recommend the actions needed to improve and protect water quality. Use this tool to see how many Minnesota watershed have final WRAPS reports.
- Status of total maximum daily load (TMDL) reports – TMDLs establish the amount of pollutant an impaired body of water can accept and still meet water quality standards, and the amount of reduction needed to meet the standard. Use this tool to track the MPCA's effort to develop TMDLs for all impaired waters.
- Pollutant reductions at wastewater treatment plants – Use this tool to see how wastewater facilities in Minnesota are doing in reducing phosphorus and other pollutants from their discharges.
- Best management practices implemented – See what actions have been taken in each watershed to reduce contaminated runoff from rural and agricultural lands. Best practices include planting cover crops, improving septic systems, stabilizing streambanks, restoring wetlands, and much more.
- Spending on project implementation – Learn about state, local, and federal spending on projects around the state that are designed to restore or protect water quality. Track spending by county or watershed.
Learn more: Tracking Minnesota’s Legacy and Trust Funds
MPCA activities funded for FY 2022-2023
The Minnesota Legislature appropriated $256.792 million from the Clean Water Fund to water resource activities for fiscal years 2022-2023. The MPCA received $42.177 million to do water quality protection work required by state and federal laws.
Water quality monitoring: $14.432 million
The agency will continue accelerated monitoring and assessment efforts from the previous funding cycle to characterize conditions of our water resources. Intensive watershed monitoring includes biological, chemical, and habitat monitoring in watersheds to assess the water conditions. Assessments determine if waters are impaired and serve as a basis for further analysis of watershed problems, protection options, and overall watershed planning efforts.
Watershed restoration and protection strategies and TMDL development: $13.451 million
The MPCA will continue to support local government through development WRAPS that identify the sources of pollution and provide information to help local water planners prioritize and target solutions. WRAPS are developed with local partners to set strategies for impaired waters and unimpaired waters by setting reduction and protection goals and measures to guide state and local government implementation efforts.
The funds also support:
- the traveling “We Are Water” exhibit, which engages residents in clean water issues around the state
- groundwater assessment, drinking water protection, and septic system work
- nonpoint- and point-source implementation, including Great Lakes restoration
- reducing use of road salt and water softener salt
Clean Water Fund performance report
This report is published every two years and provides a high-level overview of Minnesota’s performance so far in restoring and protecting the quality of the state’s surface water, groundwater and drinking water, using Clean Water Fund dollars.
Highlights of 2022 report
Water quality achievements between 2010 and 2021 as a result of water management activities supported by Minnesota’s Clean Water Fund:
- awarded more than 3,631 grants to protect and restore Minnesota’s water resources
- delisted 66 lakes and streams from Minnesota’s impaired waters list
- issued more than 2,087 loans to prevent nonpoint-source water pollution or solve existing water quality problems
- secured more than 778 easements that will permanently protect approximately 17,034 acres along riparian corridors and within wellhead protection areas
- repaired 788 septic systems that posed imminent health threats
- upgraded 48 municipal wastewater treatment facilities, which reduced phosphorus discharges by more than 268,000 pounds per year
- delineated Drinking Water Supply Management Areas for all 500 vulnerable municipal water systems to protect their drinking water sources
- engaged more than 6,500 visitors in the We Are Water MN exhibit; of those surveyed, 94% indicated that they learned something new about our water resources