In the last four years, you may have noticed environmental projects like rain gardens or shoreline restorations popping up across Minnesota. Or maybe you’ve seen the Legacy Amendment logo and signs saying, “This project was funded with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.”
Since the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed, the Legislature has appropriated millions to the Clean Water Fund (one of four Legacy funds), meant to “protect Minnesota’s drinking water sources and to protect, enhance, and restore Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.”
Since 2008, nearly $45 million of that money has been invested in “on-the-ground” projects through the Minnesota Board of Water Soil Resources (BWSR), where citizens and local governments are working together to install conservation practices that will improve the quality in our lakes, rivers and wetlands.
These dollars are creating a impact in our local communities, touching virtually every part of Minnesota. In fact, check out these numbers:
- BWSR has awarded nearly $45 million, and has leveraged an additional $44 million through federal and local partnerships
- 1,280 land and water treatment practices have been completed
- 64 soil and water conservation districts, 48 counties, 33 watershed districts, 11 joint powers organizations and 5 cities have received funding for projects
- $893,950 was the amount of the largest grant awarded and $118,402 is the average grant amount
Beyond those numbers, and perhaps more importantly, we are starting to see the environmental impact these investments are making. In the first two years of funding, BWSR has calculated what results are showing up – some highlights include:
- 2,095 acres of native buffers have been established along waterways, reducing pollution in our lakes and rivers
- 141 septic systems have been replaced, preventing more than 10 million gallons of sewage per year from entering our waterways
- 60 feedlots have been fixed, eliminating runoff to nearby streams
- 28 abandoned wells have been sealed, eliminating potential sources of groundwater contamination
From Aug. 1-Sept. 14, BWSR is accepting grant applications, where local units of government can compete for $22.9 million from the Clean Water Fund. Eligible projects include those that control storm water runoff in agricultural or urban areas, or that will improve water quality by replacing problem septic systems, upgrading feedlots, or establishing native vegetation along shorelines in environmentally-sensitive areas.
Minnesota’s cities, counties, soil and water conservation districts, watershed districts and watershed management organizations are eligible for the grants.
It’s important we all get involved in this important effort – so make sure your local government is putting these funds to work in your area.
After all, we want to create a “legacy” for all of Minnesota.
For more information about this program or the Clean Water Fund, visit the BWSR website at: www.bwsr.state.mn.us.