Environmentalist Water Bill Surges in Minnesota

A torrent of private property rights are being flooded out by a radical water bill (HF 826, SF 762) being rushed through the Minnesota legislature at tsunami-speed. Opponents emphasize this is a dangerous bill that threatens the private property rights and other freedoms of all Minnesota Citizens.

Supporters claim quick action on the bill is necessary to avoid development-related lawsuits, but closer examination of the legislation reveals that the Act itself is crafted so it can create an unelected Green Army, empowered to destroy development rights and drown businesses and homeowners under sweeping new regulations.

The Clean Water Legacy Act allows a Green Army of extreme environmentalists (called "citizen monitors") to collect information on Minnesota properties. The bill requires "individual wasteload data" be collected for all point sources in the state. Minnesota law defines "point source" as follows: " 'Point source' means any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including, but not limited to, any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft, from which pollutants are or may be discharged." This appears to mean that "individual waste load data, "in addition to what is collected already, must be collected for

    a.  all private septicsystems,
    b.  all private wells,
    c.  all privies,
    d.  all toiletsin RVs, boats and aircraft,
    e.  all animal barns or sheds where livestock of any kind is kept or may be kept,
    f.  all road ditches and dryruns,
    g.  all drainage ditches,
    h.  all drainage tiles, and
    i.  any otheridentifiable point "from which pollutants are or may be discharged."

This bill is supposed to deal with surface water, but as it is written requires that all private wells be tested. How are the Greens going to have access to all this information? A companion bill (HF 1309 and SF 1371) to the Clean Water Legacy Act stipulates that authorized Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) which will include PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the Sierra Club will be eligible to be designated as "agents" who can enter private property in order to "make surveys and investigations" without permission or warrants. That is, they can be enabled to go on any private property, without permission or any evidence of wrong doing and without due process of law, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to do their "investigations." Because this bill creates law that deals with surface water, the Greens can be enabled to do their inspecting on virtually all property in the state including private lawns in towns and cities.

The Clean Water Bill also says that "each property owner served by a community wastewater treatment system under this program must provide an easement to the governmental unit to allow for access to the system for management and repairs." This means that your sewage system, for all practical purposes, now belongs to the government. Government and its agents can "repair" it and send you the bill. Government and its agents can now come at least to your doorstep, unannounced, and evaluate and "fix" your system. Does the word "system" include your indoor plumbing and toilets? Based on the definition of "sewage system" in Minnesota law, it appears that it does. That may be why we are told that some legislators are calling this, "the toilet bill."

What will happen when local officials drag their feet on enforcing a state law that is extraordinarily expensive in addition to violating the people's right to protection of "life, liberty and property" by means of "due process of law"? Isn't our right of private property trampled on when property is no longer "private"?

The Greens, of course, can be expected to do what they often do­ they can be expected to go to court and demand that the law be enforced to the last letter. Local officials will then have no choice but to give the Greens what they demand.

This can happen even though point source pollution contributes only 15% ofthe pollution in the state. There is a total disconnect between the described problem and the supposed solution. This law (which was written byan environmental NGO) can give the extreme environmentalists major controlover all the water and land in the state.