FMR Water Program 2019 highlights

by Trevor Russell
Despite an April snowstorm, hundreds of concerned Minnesotans showed up at the Capitol for Water Action Day 2019 to remind our leaders that we are water — and water is life! 

At FMR, we have a lot to be thankful for. As we begin an exciting and action-packed new year, here are some brief reflections on the achievements we're most proud of from 2019: 

Water Program expanded

Perhaps our most exciting change in 2019 was hiring our new Agricultural Policy Manager Peter LaFontaine. With Peter’s experience and leadership, we are increasing our efforts to advance new agricultural systems that protect clean water while enhancing farm prosperity.

Groundwater Protection Rule adopted

After several years of work, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) approved the Groundwater Protection Rule in 2019. This is a landmark effort to reducing high nitrate levels within the state's vulnerable Drinking Water Supply Management Areas. This rule was greatly improved by FMR’s advocacy efforts and will pave the way for much-needed protections for rural drinking water supplies. Thank you to all the River Guardians who weighed in!

Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund protected

FMR played a leadership role in securing a fix to the Legislature’s 2018 raid of the Environmental Trust Fund and helped to prevent a second raid during the 2019 session. This is a long-term victory that helps secure the integrity of this voter-approved natural resource funding. 

Safe Drinking Water Fee increased

FMR helped secure a much-needed increase in the state’s Safe Drinking Water Fee. The $9.72 annual fee per year per service connection allows the Minnesota Department of Health to test our drinking water, review water treatment plants, train and certify water system operators, inspect water systems and solve critical drinking water problems. 

Forever Green funding increased

FMR led coalition efforts to secure an increase in funding for the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative to develop new crops that reduce runoff pollution and habitat loss currently associated with our dominant annual cropping systems (corn and soybeans) while maintaining or enhancing farm prosperity — a key goal of FMR’s water program.

Forever Green Partnership emerges

FMR helped secure new state funding for the “Forever Green Partnership.” This emerging coalition of agribusinesses, environmental nonprofits, research institutions, state and local governments, farm groups and drinking water suppliers will work collaboratively to build markets and supply chains for Forever Green crops in Minnesota. For months, FMR and key allies worked behind the scenes to form this exciting partnership to take clean-water crops to the next level, and we look forward to launching it in 2020! 

Water Action Day 2019

FMR played a leadership role in coordinating more than 50 partner organizations to host the 2019 Water Action Day at the Minnesota State Capitol, including our clean water rally, an environmental town hall with agency leadership, and in-person visits with legislators from across the state.

Working with all of you! 

The best part about advocating on behalf of Minnesota's waters is that we get to work with FMR members and river-lovers from across the state.

Whether through action alerts and public comments on important rules or events like Water Action Day or educational happy hours at our favorite breweries, we're deeply thankful for the opportunity to work with all of our River Guardians and member-donors to help protect our great river and its watershed in Minnesota!

More from the Water and Legi updates blog