ST. PAUL – Helping communities with drinking and wastewater project needs is the top priority of Minnesota’s Legislative Water Commission this session. State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) is the co-chair of this bipartisan, bicameral organization.
“For small towns in southwestern Minnesota, affordable wastewater treatment is of utmost importance,” Torkelson said. “The commission has spent a lot of time discussing how we fund these projects and how we can ease the burden on smaller communities.”
Torkelson notes that the Public Finance Authority (PFA) is a state agency that helps communities with payments for wastewater and drinking water projects. One recommendation from the water commission is a bill that would allocate $167 million in bonding proceeds to the PFA in order to help the agency with its mission.
Another recommendation is making changes to the way the Pollution Control Agency (PCA) addresses water quality needs in a particular location.
“When you’re dealing with small towns in Greater Minnesota, in some cases the PCA sets the bar very high and asks them to install very expensive systems,” Torkelson said. “We’re asking the PCA to reevaluate how they do that, because spending an inordinate amount of money on an expensive system pushes up utility bills to the point that they’re almost unaffordable for residents in the community.”