As 2017 nears we've compiled a brief preview of the state policies we're keeping an eye on.
You can begin to contact your elected officials right now
. Call or email to let your legislator know that protecting water is important to you. You can stress the importance of clean water to tourism, local businesses, property values, health and wildlife.
(Legislators do not hear from constituents much before a bill is proposed, so reaching out now gives you the chance to make a connection before you contact them about a specific bill in 2017.)
Here are the "highlights" of what we're expecting:
A reprise of high capacity well legislation that will allow well permit holders to repair, replace or transfer a well with no additional DNR review. This bill almost passed last year and we are expecting to see a new bill in early January. We believe DNR needs to be able to periodically review and condition wells to reduce the impacts on rivers, lakes and wetlands around the state. River Alliance is one of 62 organizational members of the Central Sands Water Action Coalition (CSWAC)
, which has been working on reaching out to the agricultural community and legislators to find solutions for all water users.
Likewise, we are expecting the return of last session's aquaculture bill. The bill would treat fish farms and aquaculture facilities essentially as farms, which would exempt them from a host of water quality regulations. Our friends at Trout Unlimited worked with legislators to remove provisions that would have harmed trout streams. We hope that the new bill retains those changes and also finds a balance between supporting aquaculture and protecting water quality and wetlands.
A main focus for the legislature next year is the state budget. We'll be keeping a close eye on the DNR budget for cuts or changes that would prevent DNR from doing its job to manage and protect the waters of the state. We expect to see proposals connected to the DNR's "realignment" and will watch for non-budget items like the shoreland zoning changes they made in past budgets.
Watch your inbox for action alerts starting in January that will provide the details about the bills, including talking points to help make it a simple as possible to understand the bill and its potential impacts and to share your concerns with your legislators. Be sure you've subscribed to our newsletter to receive these important action alerts.