There are bad provisions in Omnibus Environment bill that allow a polluter to shift the cost of pollution to a neighbor. And other provisions where one person actually takes a neighbors water. Here are the biggest six:
1. The bill says that the waste water from some sewage treatment plants going into a lake or river—even ones used for drinking water—doesn’t have to be up to current standards.
Normally waste water treatment systems—municipal & industrial—must upgrade if water standards get more protective. But some get a 16 year free pass in this bill. Advocates say there isn’t enough money to protect ours waters. But those of us who drink the water are willing to help pay the bill. There’re 350 waste water systems in the upper Mississippi, the drinking water source for a million Minnesotans. It could be much cheaper to upgrade the waste water treatment systems than redo drinking water systems since upgrading waste water systems for new standards is less expensive. The big expense people are talking about not up grading to meet standards but rebuilding old systems that are falling part.
2. Our water laws are based on fair share. This bill prohibits DNR from requiring any tests on the amount of water available in an aquifer or adding any conditions when the water levels of the aquifer are down when someone wants to transfer a water appropriation permit to someone else— that means that this bill gives one person rights to water even though the next door neighbor could have less. Getting rid of fair share is a very bad idea.
3. There is a White Bear Lake Stop the World I want to get off provision says that DNR cannot enforce the court order that protects White Bear Lake until July, 2019 even if the Lake drops precipitously. Why? Apparently some folks don’t want to face the fact that the groundwater under White Bear Lake is limited and there need to be some restrictions on use.
One of the court’s findings was that it is undisputed that the use of the groundwater in the White Bear Lake area is unsustainable
4. This bill prohibits the PCA from making rules about about demolition debris landfills. Without new rules the pollution from landfills can pollute a neighbors drinking water source.
5. This bill says no permit is needed for an activity that conveys or connects waters of the state. The example given in committee was that the polluted Devil’s lake in ND could be drained into surface water in Minnesota without a permit. Not smart.
6. There was 3M settlement language in the bill that was agreeable to everyone. But in Ways and Means an amendment said priority for spending must be given to two activities. The change in priorities is so major that they no longer resemble those in the Agreement and Order made between the state and 3M. So the bill appears to reject the agreement and put the money in jeopardy. Why?
We can do better. Minnesotan expect better.