Hello from St. Paul, where we are nearing the end of Week 3 in the 2015 session. Here is a recap of some things that have come across my radar.
We are examining issues pertaining to ground water which have significant impacts in our area. The DNR recognizes quantity and quality in its decision-making process for irrigation purposes. I believe those should be two separate issues. If ground water levels are stable, then let’s act appropriately. If there are water-quality issues, let’s address those, too, but separately.
I believe farmers and all residents in our area voluntarily conserve water and encourage them to do so. Local input is important as we work to bring improvements and I welcome your thoughts on the matter.
On a related note, we recently received word Gov. Mark Dayton is looking to expand buffers around our waters. Specifically, he proposes that “a 50 foot [grass or similar] buffer be placed around all state waters.” This requirement would be “enforced by the DNR through aerial and other inspections.’’
One quote from Dayton especially caused a stir: “The land may be yours. But the water belongs to all of us, and to all who will follow all of us.’’
This announcement came as a surprise to many and it comes with numerous questions. How would this impact farmers and other landowners? Where will the funding come from to pay for this plan? Are we comfortable having the DNR supersede local governments in enforcing these regulations?
The vast majority of farmers I know are careful stewards of their land. They do their best to minimize erosion and maximize productivity from their acres.
Maybe common-sense improvements will prevail from the governor having floated this proposal but, for now, we need to do a lot more investigating to answer these questions and a whole lot more. The changes could be profound in areas of the state like ours and we need to determine exactly what this proposal would mean.
I will keep you posted as things unfold but, again, please send me your thoughts.