Gov. Mark Dayton says he wants to invest nearly $220 million to modernize Minnesota’s creaking drinking water and wastewater infrastructure as part of a larger borrowing plan.
Calling it a “significant portion” of his total capital investment proposal set to be laid out Friday morning, Dayton unveiled an initiative Thursday focused on improving water systems and water quality across the state, which he said have been neglected for too long.
Dayton’s plan would allocate $167 million in state capital investment funding to help cities that cannot afford to make critical updates in water infrastructure that is, in some cases, roughly a century old.
The proposal would also invest $52.7 million in water quality protection initiatives through the Pollution Control Agency, the Board of Water and Soil Resources, and the Metropolitan Council. Water quality and infrastructure improvement will be an emphasis during Dayton’s final three years in office, he said at a news conference.
MORE Learn more about the governor's proposed water infrastructure improvement initiative
State officials said the proposed spending is three or four times the amount dedicated to water quality in any previous bonding bill.
“Minnesota has long been known for the abundance and quality of its water,” Dayton said. “It is no longer something we can take for granted.”
With the federal Environmental Protection Agency projecting roughly $11 billion in needed water infrastructure updates across the state, Dayton acknowledged his proposal represents only a first step. The governor also admits he “set the bar high” with his $220 million proposal and that he doesn’t expect it will be funded in full.
Dayton’s proposal would allow the state to nearly double its assistance to local governments for water projects, from $160 million to nearly $300 million. The proposed $220 million would: