Governor Mark Dayton says he’ll veto a bill the Minnesota House passed Monday that would prevent the state Ag Department from banning fall application of fertilizer on farm fields in some parts of the state. Steve Morse with the Minnesota Environmental Partnership says, “We now have over 50 communities in the state where their public water supplies have elevated nitrate levels…, some of them exceeding the health risk limits.” Republican Representative Rod Hamilton from Mountain Lake responds, “What we want to know specifically is, what are the rules that you’re proposing to change?” Farms that would be affected by the proposed new rule are mainly in central and southeast Minnesota, along the Mississippi River basin where soils are porous. Farms near several municipal water systems in southwest Minnesota would also be included.
Democratic Representative Clark Johnson says Saint Peter residents had to pay for a reverse-osmosis system to remove nitrates. “Most families in Saint Peter have contributed about a thousand dollars extra to make sure they have clean water,” he says. But Waseca Republican John Petersburg responds farm fertilizer might not be the cause and the legislature should examine the problem more closely. “Instead of saying, well, farmers, you’re still using too much — when, even if they’ve cut down, we should have at least seen a plateau of the nitrogen level of water instead of it continue to rise. So there’s got to be something else going on,” Petersburg says.
More in this interview with Morse:
And with Hamilton: