10 Reasons to Uphold the Camp Coldwater Springs Protection Law By Susu Jeffrey

1.. HR 3037 (SF 3158), is a second attempt to repeal the Coldwater legislation. A House-Senate conference committee last May failed to repeal the law. No one testified against the Coldwater bill in any committee, in both houses, during the bill's journey through the legislature last session. MAC, MnDOT, the DNR and the Minnesota Historic Society all presented testimony in various committees. The House vote was 110-20; it was unanimous in the Senate.

2.. The Coldwater law aligns the historic state birthplace with the boundaries of the Fort Snelling Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places. Based on an old map with fuzzy lines, the former boundary appeared to bisect Coldwater reservoir. The legislation extends the protection of the Minnesota Historic Sites Act and the Minnesota Field Archaeology Act to include the outflow of this 10,000-year old spring, running at 100,000-144,000 gallons a day.

3.. MnDOT canceled the Highway 55/62 interchange project (9/01) after rejecting a third party consultant report in court-ordered negotiations. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District v. MnDOT case is active and questions of separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches appear here.

4.. Construction permits were granted on MnDOT assurances of "no adverse harm" to Coldwater Springs. Construction dewatering resulted in a 30-percent decrease in flow to the spring. Permanent dewatering would be deeper with up to half of the spring's sourcewater piped directly into the Mississippi, according to Minnehaha watershed dye and pump tests.

5.. The current construction project calls for the roadbed to be dug down 36 feet (11 meters) below the surface. The design is based on FAA airport runway safety zone standards for a proposed runway extension for a single Northwest Airlines flight that was canceled in September 1999. The nonstop MSP to Hong Kong route was abandoned for lack of ticket sales. Old, noisy 747s, designed in the 1970s, that need a long runway for take-offs on very hot, humid summer days, would have been used. Newer long distance planes have increased booster power requiring less runway.

6.. The proposed extension of the Crosswind 4-22 runway was "indefinitely postponed" after the September 11 tragedy and ensuing economic slump.

7.. Extending the Crosswind runway would include paying for moving and replacing some military facilities at the airport complex.

8.. MnDOT designed the 55/62 interchange 36-feet below grade despite their senior geologist's July 25, 1997 memo in which Chuck Howe noted: "Any type of disturbance to the perching layers in the limestone could cause some of the flow to the spring could [sic] be cut off, thus reducing the amount of the flow, either slightly or dramatically (depending on the degree of disturbance)."

9.. Raising the road is probably less expensive than underlining the highway with a concrete bed ($4-$8-million), especially in view of plans to expand Highway 62 from four to six lanes. The entire interchange project was budgeted for $16-million. MnDOT paid Ames Construction $1-milion as a broken contract award. Minnehaha watershed's hydrogeologic consultant suggests that a backfill of 4 meters (13-14 feet) would produce a "dry road." MnDOT's metro district engineer Richard Stehr announced repeatedly that no alternative plans were being considered. The Highway 55 roadbed was raised adjacent to Minnehaha Park at 50th and 54th streets to accommodate groundwater flow-a double precedent.

10.. Please add the value of the largest (and last free-flowing) limestone bedrock spring in the Twin Cities to any bottom line accounting. Coldwater is situated just above the Minnesota-Mississippi confluence which forms the only true river gorge on the entire 2,350-mile length of the great river. The spring empties into a reservoir then tumbles into a creek, a wetland, and a waterfall on its way down the bluff. Coldwater furnished water to Fort Snelling for 100 years. Camp Coldwater was the Native-soldier-pioneer community birthplace of the state of Minnesota.

Thank you for passing the Coldwater law last year. Please let it stand.