ST. PAUL - The Minnesota House Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee will hold a special meeting at the Annandale City Hall on Monday, Nov. 28, to discuss a recent appellate court decision that denied a joint wastewater permit for Annandale and Maple Lake.
The meeting, which will begin at 6:30 p.m., will bring committee members up to speed on the court’s ruling and how the communities are dealing with the setback.
“We need to hear from community members who can tell us about their experiences so we can find the best solution,” said State Representative Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City. Urdahl represents the Annandale area and serves on the committee.
The meeting will be the latest chapter in Minnesota’s debate over how to meet water quality standards required by the federal Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA). The CWA requires states to identify surface waters that do not meet minimum quality standards, identify the source of the pollution and establish a plan to bring the water up to quality. Hundreds of impaired waters have already been identified in Minnesota.
Committee Chairman Dennis Ozment, R-Rosemount, led a bipartisan effort to pass a plan for Minnesota to meet CWA requirements during the 2005 legislative session, but the plan failed after some legislators objected to placing the funding burden on homeowners and businesses.
In August, a Minnesota appeals court denied a joint wastewater permit for a plant servicing Annandale and Maple Lake because discharge from the plant would eventually affect an impaired body of water, something the federal Clean Water Act does not allow without a plan in place to improve the lake’s water quality. In this case, the body of water is Lake Pepin, located on the Mississippi River southeast of the Twin Cities.
“More than half the land area of Minnesota is in the Lake Pepin watershed district,” said Dennis Ozment, chairman of the committee. “This issue proves that we will face serious environmental and economic consequences if we do not develop and fund a plan to clean up our polluted waters.”
As a result of the August ruling, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is reviewing numerous other permits for water treatment plants and industries to make sure the permits would not allow polluted discharges into dirty waters.
Ozment said he is working with other legislators to bring back a new water quality initiative that addresses funding concerns and creates options for proposed plants, such as the Annandale-Maple Lake plant, to go forward.
“The longer we wait, the more expensive it will become. We will also run the risk of facing more situations such as we do here in Annandale and Maple Lake. Our environment and our state’s economy cannot afford us taking such a risk,” Ozment said.