An Agreement between the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) and MnDOT has spawned a new facilitating Amendment to our Coldwater Protection (CP) Law at the Legislature. The Agreement incorporates the best ideas and concepts available to preserve and protect the flow of water to and from Coldwater Spring. The Amendment allows the parties to enter into the Agreement, using the CP Law as a guide to resolve their lawsuit, while keeping the existing CP Law intact.

Up to now, the focus at the Legislature was to repeal our Coldwater Protection Law to allow completion of the highway 62/55 interchange using the old, flawed design if necessary. Last week the Senate instead brought forward and passed an Amendment to allow the parties to enter into the Settlement Agreement while preserving the CP Law. The House is working this week to match the Senate language.

The Agreement:
MCWD and MnDOT are completing final details of an agreement unveiled at the March 21 MCWD meeting. The new interchange design raises the 62 roadway as high as possible without rebuilding the completed 55 bridge deck. A synthetic fabric clay liner would isolate the roadbed from area groundwater. Gravel surrounding the new roadbed would allow groundwater to flow around and beneath the roadbed, not unlike a barge (the roadway) floating on the river (groundwater flowing through gravel). Previous designs placed the roadway much lower and closer to the bedrock, minimizing the area available for groundwater flow. The new raised roadway allows maximum groundwater flow below it. MCWD engineers, including Kelton Barr, believe this new design preserves and protects the continued flow of water to and from Coldwater Springs.

The Flow:
On August 7th, MCWD wrote a memo addressing problems with the old interchange design that gave the numbers of all the water heights. Coldwater Spring is 242.5 meters above sea level. The natural water table at the intersection is 245.5 meters above sea level. The new interchange design places the drains for the road between 245.5 and 246 meters above sea level. In other words out of the water table!

The Amendment:
Last week the Senate passed the following Amendment to support the Agreement:

1.1 Senator Knutson moved to amend S.F. No. 3298 as follows:
1.2 Pages 18 and 19, delete section 21 and insert:
1.4 Any order entered and filed by the court in Court File No.
1.5 MC01-07478 in the fourth judicial district of Hennepin county,
1.6 based upon a stipulation of the parties which resolves the
1.7 underlying dispute supersedes the provisions of Laws 2001,
1.8 chapter 101, section 1.
1.9 [EFFECTIVE DATE.] This section is effective the day
1.10 following final enactment."
1.11 The motion prevailed. So the amendment
1.12 was adopted.

The Bottom Line:
The Coldwater Protection Law remains in place, but theamended Law allows this project to move forwardif/when a design acceptable to the MCWD is developed.The MCWD will keep a 30-month hold on the success ofthe project when changes can be made. Theresponsibility then remains on MnDOT to maintain it, and the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District(LMRWD) then takes responsibility because it's technically in their watershed. (unless MCWD suesMnDOT again) And if a judge needs to look at what's happening, the Coldwater Protection Law is still in
place to give a clear indication as to what's supposed to be happening.

What To Do:
Now's the time to do the drill one last time. Contact your Representative by phone or email and tell them to vote Yes on the Amendment to facilitate the MCWD Settlement Agreement. If the house passes the bill matching the senate we win. Period.

Call - Email - Fax - Forward this email to your Representative with your comments.
House Contact Information: 651 296-0504 or 651 296-2887