MPCA Waterfront Bulletin

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Waterfront Bulletin
June 2020 Edition

Clean Water Partnership marks biggest year ever


The Clean Water Partnership (CWP) loan program helps restore lakes and streams in Minnesota, one project at a time. The program, administered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), marked its biggest year ever in fiscal year 2020, awarding $8.75 million in no-interest loans. It’s been about 25 years since the program came close to that level, previously $7 million in the mid-1990s.

This program once awarded low-interest loans to local partners, such as cities, watershed districts and non-profit groups, to reduce non-point pollution, which is pollution from diffuse sources such as cropland runoff, urban stormwater and failing septic systems.

But as bank interest rates dropped to low levels over the years, the program had difficulty generating applications. Then program staff – Cindy Penny and Kurt Soular - proposed a change. Because previous recipients had paid back their loans with interest, the program had its own source of funding from the interest payments. In other words, MPCA staff had increased the funding available through good management and interest payments.

Their proposal: Loan the money out at no interest and use payments to keep the loan fund revolving.

They also proposed expanding the use of the loan funds for projects like wellhead protection, street sweepers, inflow and infiltration fixes, water softener removal, and streambank restoration.

“This is a great success story and we will keep it rolling. It was good before, but better now,” said Glenn Skuta, MPCA Watershed Division director.

The program is continuously open for applications, so local partners can apply at any time. Below is an example of how the program can quickly process an application and get the funds into the hands of local partners who can immediately implement their idea.

City of Edgerton

The City of Edgerton in southwest Minnesota recently applied to the CWP for a loan to purchase a street sweeper from the City of Luverne. This street sweeper is an upgrade for Edgerton and allows the city to clean their streets more quickly and efficiently than with the old sweeper. The application process was quick and easy, taking only three days from submittal of the application to receiving approval for the loan. 

By removing sediment, leaves, salt, and other debris from Edgerton streets, the city is helping to restore Chanarambie Creek. The creek is the headwaters of the Rock River, and a state study of the surrounding watershed recommends a 62% reduction of sediment to the stream. Edgerton estimates that it removes nearly 200 tons of sand, salt, dirt, leaves, grass and twigs from city streets each year. That’s 200 tons that does not go into the storm sewer system that drains to Chanarambie Creek. Street sweeping not only reduces the amount of sediment going to the stream, but also nutrients and other pollutants that may travel with the debris left on the streets.

See the Clean Water Partnership loans webpage for more information, or contact: