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Central Minnesotans encouraged to be heard about water clean-up efforts

Sauk River Watershed District officials seek citizen input about two projects being funded with taxpayer dollars. Citizens who live and work within central Minnesota's Sauk River Watershed District (SRWD) are encouraged to make their voices heard...

Sauk River Watershed District officials seek citizen input about two projects being funded with taxpayer dollars.

Citizens who live and work within central Minnesota's Sauk River Watershed District  (SRWD) are encouraged to make their voices heard on two environmental protection efforts that use a combined $754,000 in mostly taxpayer dollars.

A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 15 at 7:45 p.m. at the SRWD headquarters at 524 4th Street in Sauk Centre.

Here's a look at the two projects:

Sauk River Stormwater Runoff Reduction and Riparian Restoration Clean Water Fund Project.

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  •  Funding source: Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resource.
  •  Purpose: Providing financial and technical assistance to landowners to implement stormwater management and land-use conservation practices.
  •  Cost: $544,111, with $435,289 in grant money and $108,822 in matching money and in-kind contributions from state and local agencies, organizations and landowners.

Technical Assistance Clean Water Fund Project for the Mississippi River Basin Initiative.

  •  Funding source: Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.
  •  Purpose: Providing technical assistance to local landowners to implement conservation practices using Federal Mississippi River Basin Initiative funding.
  •  Cost: $210,526 - $168,421 in grant money and $42,105 in matching money and in-kind contributions from state and local agencies and organizations.

"Not only do we want residents to know what the money is being spent on and how the water we depend on benefits, but it's the feedback from those most affected that helps us prioritize the funding allocations based on what the people believe is most important," said SRWD Administrator Holly Kovarik.
In 2008, Minnesotans passed the Legacy Amendment to the state Constitution, and the fruits of that vote - financed by 0.375-cent sales tax increase - are helping fund these two projects and many others. To learn more, visit the website www.legacy.leg.mn/ .

For more information about projects financed through the Clean Water Fund, which is receiving 33 percent of Legacy Amendment money, visit www.bwsr.state.mn.us/cleanwaterfund/stories . Visitors to the site can track how tax dollars are being spent as projects move along.

"The voters decided they were willing to pay more to protect Minnesota's environment, and we are grateful for that landmark event at the ballot box," Kovarik said. "But public participation should not stop there. If you care about how that money - your money - is being spent, it is vital to attend hearings such as the one on March 15."

ABOUT THE SAUK RIVER WATERSHED DISTRICT

As a local government body, the SRWD was formed in 1982 and extends from within three miles of Alexandria at the outlet of Osakis Lake flowing south to the Mississippi River near St. Cloud.

The district's namesake, the Sauk River, meanders for 120 miles.  Members of the SRWD board of managers are appointed to three-year terms by commissioners from five counties to represent the interests of Douglas, Meeker, Pope, Stearns and Todd counties. For more about the SRWD, visit www.srwdmn.org or call (320) 352-2231.

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