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Accessing clean water funds for your conservation projects

Fri, Sep 6th, 2013
Posted in All The Great Outdoors

On September 3, 2013, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) announced that local governments can apply for funds to protect and improve water quality in their communities. The grant application period is open until October 4, 2013.

These funds are available as a result of the constitutional amendment passed by Minnesota voters in 2008. More than $17 million in grant and loan funds is available in a number of program categories to counties, cities, soil and water conservation districts, water management organizations, watershed districts and certain joint powers boards. To help prepare to apply for funds to implement projects in local communities, BWSR has made important information available on its website:

On November 4, 2008, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. The Amendment increases the sales and use tax rate by three-eighths of 1 percent on taxable sales, which started July 1, 2009, and continues through 2034. Those dollars are dedicated to four funds: Outdoor Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund, Parks and Trails Fund, and Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Individuals and non-governmental organizations (non-profits, watershed groups, school districts, etc.) can access Clean Water Funds for projects that benefit water resources by partnering with the eligible local governmental units (LGUs) listed above. Eligible activities must be consistent with an approved local water management plan, a watershed management plan, a total maximum daily load study (TMDL), Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy document, surface water intake plan, or wellhead protection plan. Fillmore County has a Local Water Management Plan approved in 2011. The county is also in the Lower Mississippi Basin in Minnesota which has a completed TMDL for fecal coliform bacteria.

Competitive Clean Water Fund grant applications are submitted electronically to BWSR. The applications are reviewed and ranked by an interagency team that includes BWSR, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Agricultureand the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The list of recommended projects goes to the BWSR Board for approval in December. The BWSR Board consists of 20 members appointed by the Governor from local government, state agencies, and citizens.

The board is the state’s administrative agency for soil and water conservation districts, watershed districts, metropolitan watershed management organizations, and county water managers. The BWSR mission is to “improve and protect Minnesota’s water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners.”

Many of the projects that have been funded with the Clean Water Fund establish conservation practices to control stormwater runoff in urban and agricultural areas. Others improve water quality by replacing problem septic systems, upgrading feedlots and by establishing permanent vegetation along shorelines in environmentally sensitive areas. A list of projects funded in 2012 can be viewed on the BWSR website.

For more information about applying for Clean Water Fund grants, contact the Fillmore SWCD at 507-765-3878, ext. 3.

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