Politics and Government

Walz: $293M needed to make water infrastructure more resilient to climate change

Gov. Tim Walz tours a storm tunnel with public works officials.
Danny Rohloff, left, construction management coordinator, shows Minneapolis Director of Public Works Robin Hutcheson and Gov. Tim Walz around a storm tunnel during a tour of the system in northeast Minneapolis on Friday.
Anthony Souffle | Star Tribune via AP

Gov. Tim Walz is proposing $293 million in borrowing to help improve drinking water and wastewater facilities throughout Minnesota.

The DFL governor announced the plan Friday at the State Capitol. It was the second in a planned four-part rollout of a bonding bill that is expected to reach $2 billion. Republicans have said the number is too big.

Walz said the investment in water-related projects is needed to replace aging infrastructure and meet basic needs in communities.

“This will go toward supporting projects to fix pipes and plants that process the state’s sewage and drinking water,” Walz said. “It will harden existing stormwater infrastructure and build new, more resilient infrastructure to manage increased extreme weather events we see as a result of climate change.”

Four people ride in a basket following an underground tour.
Gov. Tim Walz, commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget Myron Frans, Minneapolis director of Public Works Robin Hutcheson and sewer engineer Joe Klejwa ride in a personnel basket back to the surface following an underground tour of the storm tunnel system in northeast Minneapolis on Friday.
Anthony Souffle | Star Tribune via AP

The long list of projects includes a water and sewer extension for a park in Lake City, Minn., riverbank stabilization in Mankato, Minn., and upgrades to the snow-making system at Giants Ridge.

Most of the projects are for local drinking water and wastewater improvements.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop said heavy rains linked to climate change have put aging infrastructure at risk, which can lead to wastewater overflows to lakes and rivers.

“We cannot continue at this pace,” Bishop said. “We must invest in climate resiliency.”