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Keeping Staff Updated on Water Supply Plan Efforts

June 22, 2015

Mark Maloney, City of Shoreview, sent the following email to Shoreview city staff sharing details of the recent effort by APWA-MN and CEAM regarding the Met Council Master Water Supply Plan. (Learn more here.)

Shoreview city staff:

As you know the Legislature, various regulatory agencies, and the media have devoted a lot of resources to give their perspectives on regional water supply topics for the past 18 months.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources entered into a settlement agreement last year with a group suing over topics related to the level of White Bear Lake. And the Metropolitan Council began developing a Master Water Supply Plan to guide decisions about future land use and infrastructure decisions in metro area communities.

You will recall that the tone -- at least as it was portrayed in the media -- very much had a "sky is falling" sort of feel to it, which resonates with people given highly publicized water shortages in other places like California.

Cities like Shoreview (that are in the drinking water business) had significant concerns about how quickly some of the discussion was moving -- particularly among legislators and state agency representatives who needed more and better information about the complexities of regional water supply.

Shoreview was in the interesting position of implementing the long-planned-for water treatment plant precisely at the time there were voices in the market calling for radical changes to the way cities in our area consider acquiring and distributing drinking water for their residents.

Accordingly, last year, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA-MN) and the City Engineer's Association of Minnesota (CEAM) took relatively strong, public positions about these concerns and the impacts of the potential water supply policies being discussed. Reaction from these groups was critical given that they're positioned to speak on behalf of all levels of the municipal drinking water industry, from policy level to hands-on water system operators.

I'm happy to say that their involvement has made a significant difference. Attached is a letter to the APWA-MN and CEAM membership (Shoreview is active in both) discussing what's been accomplished.

The Met Council's process is moving towards public review and comment. The current draft has significant changes in tone and realism directly attributed to the involvement of the Community Technical Work Group that had been assembled to help shape the Master Water Supply Plan. The process has also helped to integrate the efforts of the DNR and Met Council -- two agencies with distinctly different statutory roles with regard to "the water business" as local government understands it.

I mostly wanted to give an update on where this appears to be headed, and that it's in a more realistic direction than what you may have gleaned from various media or agencies reports over the past year.

APWA-MN and CEAM will continue to raise awareness with its members and provide technical assistance to help inform this process where possible.

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