Dayton proposes water use permit overhaul

Irrigation
A typical farm irrigation bill would go from $140 a year to $500 under a plan proposed by the Dayton administration to boost the DNR's water management efforts.
MPR File Photo/Tom Robertson

Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a new funding structure for big water users in Minnesota that would nearly triple the cost of water for some cities.

The Department of Natural Resources says some parts of the state are using more groundwater than supplies can sustain, and the agency doesn't have the resources to deal with the problem.

Currently the state only collects one-thousandth of a penny for each gallon of water used.

Jason Moeckel, inventory, monitoring and analysis section manager for the DNR's ecological and water resources division, said under the new plan, a typical homeowner would pay 50 cents to $1 more per year.

"I'm having hard time finding anybody who says they can't afford 50 cents or $1 or even $2 per year to help make sure water supplies are sustainable," Moeckel said.

A typical farm irrigation bill would go from $140 a year to $500.

"It's going to take a mindset shift in a state that, by and large, most of us think of as a very water-rich state," Moeckel said. "We need to protect that water richness and not use it wastefully and unknowingly."

The DNR said it will use the added money to map and measure groundwater supplies, and to modernize its permitting system.

The measure gets a hearing in a House committee Tuesday.

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