Two legislators have renewed efforts to roll back basic protections for drinking water supplies and trout fisheries. Rep. Howe (R – Rockville) and Rep. Newberger (R- Becker) recently introduced H.F. 3399 and H.F. 3400, which undermine groundwater sustainability requirements and effectively prevent DNR from restricting excessive, unsustainable pumping of groundwater until after trout fisheries are harmed or destroyed and drinking water sources are depleted.
Drinking water aquifers in many areas of the state are being steadily depleted through excessive, unsustainable pumping of groundwater. In 2010 Minnesota enacted groundwater sustainability requirements that are just beginning to positively affect groundwater permitting decisions. The law recognizes the fact that where surface waters are most closely connected to groundwater the fisheries found there act as “canaries in the coal mine”, warning when sustainability thresholds are being exceeded. These groundwater dependent fisheries are coldwater (trout) fisheries. The bills would repeal the law or nullify it by defining “negative impacts” in such a way that DNR would be forced to permit 15% of low summer base flows in trout streams (all of it cold spring flow) to be pumped out. This would destroy many or most trout streams.
This blatant attack on intelligent management of drinking water supplies and the coldwater fisheries that act as the public’s early warning system for unsustainable use is being done to enable excessive pumping by a few at the expense of the public and anglers. However, allowing destruction of trout streams will not solve the problem of declining drinking water reserves caused by excessive extraction for irrigation and other non-drinking water uses. MNTU is working with legislative leaders to keep these bills from advancing. Action alerts will go out if we cannot turn the tide by reasoning with thoughtful leaders.
Link to H.F. 3999 (Howe):
Link to H.F. 3400 (Howe):