Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday unveiled a $220 million proposal to patch up the state’s aging wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.
The plan includes $167 million in bonding money to help cities upgrade their water infrastructure and $52.7 million for “water quality protection initiatives.”
Dayton said the money is necessary to “replace aging wastewater and drinking water systems, upgrade treatment facilities to meet higher standards, and expand systems to accommodate growth,” according to a press release.
About 60 percent of the needed improvements are in Greater Minnesota.
Citing information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the press release says Minnesota communities will need $11 billion in water infrastructure improvements over the next two decades.
A 2013 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers said Minnesota’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure has a combined $11.5 billion worth of needs over the next 20 years. That breaks down to $7.4 billion for drinking water and $4.1 billion for wastewater.
“Many Minnesota communities are facing serious water quality challenges,” Dayton said in a statement. “Without state help, more and more Minnesotans will face steep increases in their local water utility bills to pay for clean, safe drinking water. We can no longer ignore these problems with our state’s water quality. They are everyone’s challenge and everyone’s responsibility.”
After the initial $220 million, an additional $100 million a year in state bonding would be needed for the next 20 years to address Minnesota’s water infrastructure needs.
If approved by the Minnesota Legislature, Dayton’s water infrastructure plan would allow the state to fund up to 80 projects a year compared to less than 50 projects now.
The $220 million in requests would include these projects: