Guest Editorial: Water bill gives farmers greater security
As we sit in the midst of a long, dry, hot summer, the Minnesota agricultural and farming community is again focused on water and its availability.
Fortunately, this year there is a little more security thanks in part to the efforts of senators Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, and Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, as well as representatives Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, and Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail.
This recent legislative session saw the passage of the Water Allocation Priorities Bill signed into law on May 3. Hoffman was the chief senate author while Ingebrigtsen chaired the Environmental Committee hearing and shepherded it through conference committee.
The bill brings Minnesota in line with the U.S. Supreme Court concerning state protections involving the exportation of ground water. Now, should any effort arise to export this state's ground water, the legislature will have the final word; issues of reasonableness, traditional conservation and usage concerns, in addition to the public's welfare, will all come into play.
Nornes was the chief author in the Minnesota House, and along with others worked to ensure that our farming community would not be faced with an unexpected water shortage due to exportation without proper legislative oversight.
This is critical to our state because so much of our agricultural efforts depend directly on irrigation by way of ground water throughout the summer months. Any depletion of our water resources either drives up the cost to irrigators or restricts availability altogether.
Now, due to these efforts, there is greater control over where our water goes and greater security for our farmers.
Peter Balega is an attorney who was involved in the drafting and passing of the Water Allocation Priorities Bill.