Performance Report; Skunk Creek; Root River; Drinking Water Grants: Clean Water Council Update

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Minnesota Clean Water Council

Clean Water Performance Report Released


Minnesota has released a report on statewide Clean Water Fund initiatives that protect and restore drinking water sources, lakes, streams, and groundwater. The report, released every two years, is a joint effort between seven Minnesota water agencies that collaborate and coordinate their Clean Water Fund activities. Minnesota voters established the Clean Water Fund in 2008 through passage of the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment.

The report tracks water activities, trends, and outcomes across key initiatives and details investments in all watersheds and communities statewide. According to the report, each dollar in Clean Water Fund spending leveraged another $1.06 in additional funding between fiscal years 2010-2023, increasing the impact of state investments and accelerating water quality progress.

The report found that between 2010 and 2023, the Clean Water Fund:

  • Was a major driver of improvements in phosphorus and sediment levels in lakes, rivers, and streams and provided needed investments to address rising nitrate and chloride levels in some regions of the state.
  • Upgraded 52 municipal wastewater treatment facilities, reducing phosphorus discharges by 48%, over 316,000 pounds per year.
  • Engaged 84,000 visitors to the We Are Water MN exhibits at 30 sites statewide since 2016, leading to new community partnerships and broader awareness of water issues.
  • Developed plans to protect the drinking water sources of nearly 800 out of the approximately 970 community water systems in Minnesota and awarded approximately 1,300 grants that support protection for local drinking water sources.
  • Certified nearly 1,000,000 acres of Minnesota farmland across more than 1,400 farms through the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program.

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Upcoming Meetings & Project Updates

Minnesota Clean Water Council

Upcoming Meetings

NOTE: Seven positions on the Clean Water Council are up for appointment this year by the Governor. See more information at the Secretary of State's office web site.

Full Council: The next meeting is Monday, March 18th (topics: first set of Clean Water Fund proposals for implementation projects for FY26-27 biennium). The packet from the February 26th meeting (topics: adoption of strategic plan and communications plan, local government roundtable, Clean Water Fund Performance Report, lake de-listings, Watershed Health Assessment Framework for Lakes) has been posted at our web site.

Policy Committee: The next meeting is Friday, March 22nd. The packet from the February 23rd meeting (topics: private wells, soil health) has been posted at our web site

Budget & Outcomes Committee: The Friday, March 1st meeting is cancelled. The packet from the February 2nd meeting (topics: Restoration Evaluations, Clean Water Fund Performance Report.) has been posted.

Updates on Projects Supported by the Clean Water Fund

A Success Story for Skunk Creek ( If you want a short description of how the watershed-based approach works to improve water quality in a Minnesota stream, check this out. This short video shows how water professionals found water quality issues in the Nemadji River Watershed south of Duluth, found their cause, and came up with solutions, all with support from the Clean Water Fund.

Maple Grove’s Fish Lake Coming Off Impaired Waters List ( An alum treatment is helping get a metro lake off the impaired waters list.

There are several grants available from the MN Department of Health.

  • The Accelerated Implementation Grant (AIG) – Groundwater Protection Initiative is now accepting applications through Thursday, March 14th. This year’s grant will award $250,000 in total with a maximum award of $50,000 per applicant. The AIG is a capacity building grant that equips local governments with the flexibility to support staff time, conduct studies, well inventories, citizen interactions, among many other activities.  The grant cannot be used for project implementation or mitigation purposes.
  • Noncommunity Transient Public Water Systems: The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has a new grant opportunity that will be available March 1, 2024, to noncommunity transient public water systems. The purpose of this funding is to support measures that address a potential contamination source that presents a high risk to a source of drinking water as determined by MDH. An equal cost share is required for receiving this grant. The minimum amount for any grant is $250 and the maximum amount is $10,000. Deadline for applications is 4:30 p.m. March 29, 2024.
  • Plan Implementation Grant: The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has a new grant opportunity that will be available on March 1, 2024 to all community and nontransient noncommunity public water supply systems that have a Source Water Protection Plan. Source water protection plans are either, 1) wellhead protection plans that have been approved by MDH under requirements of Minnesota Rules Parts 4720. 5100 to 4720.5590, or 2) MDH-approved wellhead protection action plans, or 3) surface water intake protection plans that have been endorsed by MDH. The purpose of this funding is to help public water suppliers implement source water protection measures included in their MDH-approved or -endorsed plan. These grants do not require a cost share. The minimum grant amount is $1,000 and the maximum grant amount is $10,000. Deadline for applications is 4:30 p.m. March 29, 2024

Root River: The MPCA has completed an update to the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) for the Root River Watershed, which includes progress and challenges since the first WRAPS.

Gaps in governance drive drinking water problems in Minnesota - MinnPost: The University of Minnesota recently completed an assessment of drinking water governance for the state of Minnesota. This was commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Health as a contribution to the development of a 10-year strategic plan for drinking water policy that aims at ensuring a more resilient, safe and equitable drinking water supply. 

Other Relevant Water News

Can Cover Crops Cut Water Pollution in Farm Country? ( Article covers a unique program to promote cover crops in Olmsted County. Clean Water Council member Rep. Kristi Pursell is quoted.

Pollution Expert, Public Works Leaders Reflect on Low-Salt Winter ( The City of Plymouth discusses opportunities for reducing waste of chloride de-icer.

EPA directive renews debate over state's role in protecting drinking water from farm pollution - Minnesota Reformer: Debate continues on nitrate policy at the Legislature.