A new report is giving Minnesotans a first look at how their tax dollars are helping improve water quality in the state.
The six state agencies receiving Legacy Amendment money for clean water projects reported their progress in some of the 18 different categories, including mercury in fish and phosphorus discharges from wastewater treatment plants.
But for many of the categories, it's too early to know whether progress is being made.
"I think some people have expectations that it passed two years ago and why isn't the water clean yet?" Rebecca Flood, a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency assistant commissioner, said during a conference call on Monday. "It took a long time for some of our water resources to become impaired, and I think in many cases it's going to take a good number of years for them also to be cleaned up and meeting water quality standards."
The state agencies and the University of Minnesota are keeping track of where they're spending the money and are also reporting the results of different projects — when they have them.
Flood said the multi-agency team hopes to expand the number of areas it tracks.
"There's more work that we want to do to try to develop additional measures and communicate these different types of stories to the public ... so they know where their money is being spent and how it's being spent," she said.
About $150 million went to clean water in the first two years of the amendment. In the two-year period that began in July, about $180 million will go to clean water, which makes up a third of the overall Legacy Amendment.
More than half of the clean water money goes to protection and restoration. Nine percent goes to drinking water protection, and the rest is split between watershed restoration and monitoring and assessment activities.