Minnesota is making measurable progress on a 2015 water quality buffer initiative that is designed to use perennial vegetation buffers to reduce phosphorous, nitrogen, and sediment from entering Minnesota’s lakes and streams to improve water quality statewide. The initiative was enacted with bipartisan support, and was updated to provide additional flexibility and clarity in 2016.
This week the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) announced that 74 percent of Minnesota’s counties are already 60–100% compliant with the initiative’s goals, eight months ahead of the first deadlines established by the law. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has included additional financial assistance in his 2017 budget proposal to help farmers and landowners fully participate in the initiative. These resources would supplement existing financial resources available for water quality conservation efforts.
Dayton also recently signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to invest $500 million in a partnership with farmers to improve water quality. The agreement will provide direct payments to farmers who voluntarily improve their conservation practices.