Klobuchar, Franken, Nolan, Peterson, McCollum, Ellison, and Walz Call on Army Corps of Engineers to Protect Water Quality in Voyageurs National Park

Feb 12, 2016 Issues: Congressional Issues

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with U.S. Representatives Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, and Tim Walz, sent a letter today urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to protect water quality in Voyageurs National Park. In a letter, the lawmakers urged the USACE to include funding for the Voyageurs National Park Clean Water Project in the USACE's FY 2016 Civil Works program budget. The project aims to increase water quality and long-term wastewater treatment solutions in the park while creating jobs and boosting economic growth. The federal assistance will help support progress in the current efforts to protect Voyageurs National Park, which is enjoyed by thousands of visitors a year.

“As elected officials representing Minnesota, we are rightly concerned about protecting the water quality of our nation’s premier water-based Park,” the lawmakers wrote. “Unfortunately, these waters can be contaminated by wastewater from existing developments. The water quality degradation threatens the long-term health of the ecosystem and the economic health of the tourism industry upon which a considerable share of the local economy is based. Based on these factors and the numerous benefits to Minnesota’s environment and rural economy, we ask you to allocate environmental infrastructure funding to this project.”

Voyageurs National Park is located in Saint Louis County and Koochiching County and was authorized by Congress in 1971. It covers 84,000 acres of water and 134,000 acres of land, and is enjoyed annually by thousands of visitors from across the world.

The full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy:

Thank you for your response on December 14, 2015 to our letter regarding funding for the Voyageurs National Park (VNP) Clean Water Project under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Army Civil Works program budget. With the passage of appropriations legislation for FY 2016, we again urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to support the VNP Clean Water Project as it allocates funds for environmental infrastructure projects.

VNP was authorized by Congress in 1971 and formally established in 1975. It is a national treasure, with 84,000 acres of water and 134,000 acres of land enjoyed annually by thousands of visitors from across the United States, Canada, and other countries. As elected officials representing Minnesota, we are rightly concerned about protecting the water quality of our nation’s premier water-based Park. Unfortunately, these waters can be contaminated by wastewater from existing developments. The water quality degradation threatens the long-term health of the ecosystem and the economic health of the tourism industry upon which a considerable share of the local economy is based.

The VNP Clean Water Project is critical for Minnesotans in the rural areas of Koochiching and St. Louis Counties where poverty far exceeds the statewide rate. In addition to the jobs and regional economic impact accompanying this project, it would provide higher water quality and long-term wastewater treatment solutions.

In the FY 2016 omnibus, Congress provided an additional $55 million for environmental infrastructure projects such as the VNP Clean Water Project. Furthermore, Congress instructed to USACE to prioritize environmental infrastructure projects with great economic impact, projects in rural communities, and projects in counties with high poverty rates. Based on these factors and the numerous benefits to Minnesota’s environment and rural economy, we ask you to allocate environmental infrastructure funding to this project.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to your response and to working with you to move the VNP Clean Water Project forward.

Sincerely,

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