On tour: Clean Water Council and legislators to visit water quality projects in southeast Minnesota

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Rochester, Minn. — The Clean Water Council and legislators will see how the Legacy Amendment is making a difference to water quality in southeast Minnesota when they come to Rochester and the surrounding area Sept. 15-16 for a tour.

Minnesota voters overwhelmingly approved the Legacy Amendment in 2008, which created a special tax that goes to the Clean Water Fund that helps implement projects and programs for water quality. In southeast Minnesota, the fund is helping restore streams, protect drinking water and develop new agricultural practices that help water quality.

Presentations Sunday at the Kahler Apache Hotel in Rochester will cover these topics:

  • Introduction to karst geology and hydrology
  • County geologic atlases for Olmsted and Fillmore counties
  • Drinking water contamination challenges for private well owners in karst geology
  • Water-related challenges and opportunities related to the Destination Medical Center
  • Zumbro River watershed restoration and protection

A bus tour Monday will include the following topics and locations:

  • Restoration of Cascade Creek in Rochester
  • Protection of Chatfield’s drinking water using a wellhead protection plan and the use of Kernza, a perennial grain with nitrogen-absorbing capabilities that is being tested around rural drinking water wells
  • Viewing of karst and Big Spring near Fountain
  • The Root River Field to Stream program, featuring a farm near Grand Meadow that evaluates how different agricultural practices affect runoff and the water quality of local rivers and streams

The governor appoints 17 members of the Clean Water Council, which advises on the administration and implementation of the Clean Water Legacy Act. In addition, the council makes spending recommendations to the governor and Legislature on the Clean Water Fund.

In 2008, Minnesota's voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution to:

  • protect drinking water sources;
  • protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat;
  • preserve arts and cultural heritage;
  • support parks and trails; and
  • protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.

The Legacy Amendment increased the state sales tax by three-eighths of one percent beginning on July 1, 2009 and continuing until 2034. Thirty-three percent of the Legacy Amendment revenue goes to the Clean Water Fund.

The Field Tour will also be joined by legislators from southeastern Minnesota as well as senators and representatives with water committee responsibilities.