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Failing water infrastructure, lack of funding discussed

SLAYTON -- A meeting to discuss failing sewer and water infrastructure and lack of funding to address the problems drew more than 50 people to Key Largo Monday evening.

SLAYTON - A meeting to discuss failing sewer and water infrastructure and lack of funding to address the problems drew more than 50 people to Key Largo Monday evening.

Attendees represented cities, counties, soil and water conservation districts, watershed districts, rural water associations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state and federal legislators. A panel discussion included State Reps. Joe Schomacker, Erin Murphy, Dean Urdahl, Paul Torkelson and State Sen. Bill Weber, who responded to questions about water infrastructure and stormwater management and what the state may be able to do to help.

The legislators stated they understand the crisis small towns are facing with sewer and water infrastructure. The price tag to fix all of the problems is estimated at $11 billion.

The meeting included a report from Katherine Pekarek-Scott of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on some of the monitoring and assessment work completed in the West Fork Des Moines River Watershed, as well as a timeline for completing a comprehensive Watershed Restoration and Project Strategies (WRAPS) report.

Attendees were asked to complete a Citizen Assessment and Values Survey, with information gathered to be used in the report. The survey can be found at facebook.com/WFDMR.

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Also speaking during the event were Karen Terry, University of Minnesota Extension, on watersheds, stormwater and practices to slow runoff; Karen Cavet, SEH Engineering, on water and sewer infrastructure needs within the WFDMR Watershed; and Heidi Peper, SEH Engineering, on potential funding options available at the federal and state levels.

The WFDMR watershed covers 1,333 square miles in portions of Murray, Cottonwood, Jackson, Nobles, Lyon, Pipestone and Martin counties. The meeting included representation from nearly all of the 18 cities and seven counties in the watershed.

For more information about the WFDMR Watershed, contact Ross Behrends at ross.behrends@noblesswcd.org or (507) 220-5331.

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