Below is the MCWD's letter to Sen Sabo urging her to
say no to
MNDoT's efforts to weaken the new bill and jeopardize the flow of the spring.
June 4, 2001
The Honorable Senator Julie Sabo
317 Capitol, 75 Constitution Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155-1206
Dear Senator Sabo:
I wish to thank you and Representative Gleason for your achievement in passing legislation to protect Cold Water Springs and for your efforts in bringing together the Cold Water Spring Coalition, MnDOT, and the Watershed District to resolve MnDOTís concerns about this legislation.
I understand that in an effort to prevent MnDOT from attempting to have your legislation repealed, you will present MnDOTís language to exclude the current Highway 55/62 construction to the conference committee. While your intent to preserve the legislation in order to prevent future damage to the Spring is laudable, I cannot imagine any public works project, now or in the future would pose as much of a risk to the Spring as does the current Highway 55/62 construction. While we strongly support your original legislation and have tried to work with MnDOT to develop "alternative" language, we cannot support excluding current construction activities from this statute.
I am troubled by MnDOTís unwillingness to work further in developing language that could be agreed to by all parties involved. I am also troubled by MnDOTís seemingly contradictory stance on this issue. While MnDOT has stated in public meetings and to you and Representative Gleason that they are committed to protecting the Spring, they remain entrenched in the position that your bill should be repealed or rewritten to exclude the Highway 55/62 project.
It is clear to me that MnDOT is seeking to avoid being held accountable for damage to Cold Water Spring. Last March, MnDOT attempted a bureaucratic process to prevent us from testing their assertion that Highway 55/62 construction will not impact ground water flow to the Spring. In April, they broke a signed agreement with us that would have allowed our tests to be completed. Today, they are seeking a repeal of legislation that would protect the Spring. Frankly, if MnDOT had not broken their agreement, we would have not sought a court injunction nor would we be having this discussion today.
I would like to think that we have hired the best minds for this project, we are using well respected geologists and engineers, the University of Minnesota, and have even received an opinion from a nationally recognized authority on ground water flow. Our intent is simple and clear; we want to know if construction has the potential to adversely affect Cold Water Spring and, if so, for MnDOT to mitigate accordingly. MnDOTís assertion that we are attempting to permanently stop the construction of the Highway 55 project is completely untrue. Even as this debate is ongoing, we have worked with MnDOT to find ways for them to continue construction activities. Given MnDOTís efforts to prevent us from completing critical tests, propensity for exaggeration and misdirection, and their unwillingness to cooperate in this process, it might well be that a judge is the best arbitrator for this issue.
Again, I want to thank you and Representative Gleason for your efforts in passing this bill and attempting to resolve this issue. I wish you well in preserving your hard fought for legislation, but I encourage you not to give up the good fight. Agreeing to MnDOTís language may not stop the flow to Cold Water Spring, but it will turn the faucet way down there may not be much flow to protect from future projects.
L. Eric Evenson, Administrator
MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT
Pamela Blixt, President, MCWD