From President Thayer, We Have a Bill

07 Feb 2021 6:43 AM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

“We have a Bill.”  Following a decade of promoting irrigation assurances in exchange for enhanced efficiency, conservation and drought management planning, both the House and Senate have bills moving to committee and, hopefully, onto the floor for passage.  The MGCSA needs your help to move the Bills into Law.

The two Bills, SF228 and HF 629, have similar language: redefining the (6) sixth priority, irrigating golf courses that implement best management practices as part of a commissioner-approved plan for conserving water and using water efficiently; and creating a (7) seventh priority, nonessential uses.  Furthermore, if the governor declares a water emergency: (b) The restrictions must limit lawn sprinkling, vehicle washing, golf course and park irrigation, and other nonessential uses, and have appropriate penalties for failure to comply with the restrictions.  Underlined verbiage denotes the change in law and crossed out, eliminates the passage.  Golf courses are currently considered “nonessential" water users.

Both Bills have been passed to Committee for review.  Your immediate support is critical.  The first hearing is next Tuesday in both the House and Senate.

It means: if made into Law, the DNR Commissioner must create a format that provides irrigation water assurances to golf courses that follow and implement DNR guidelines for irrigation efficiency, water conservation and drought management planning in exchange for access to limited irrigation water during times of drought.  It isn’t a mandate and only participating courses will have assurances.  Non-participating courses would fall into the non-essential category and run the risk of having their permit suspended completely, disrupting the courses business model.  Furthermore, the Bill removes golf courses from the restriction list should the governor declare an emergency. 

Now, more than ever, if you want to create a pathway for irrigation water assurances, you need to become an active advocate.  The MGCSA is making it easy to do.  

The Capitol Campus is closed for in-person business. In order to get the message to your specific representatives and senators, the MGCSA has created a resource page on the Member’s Only website page explaining where you can download a message to share via email requesting support.  Please log in and look at all the materials available on the Member’s Only Resource page.  The template can be modified based on your relationship with your legislator.  The site also contains all of the MGCSA BMP Packets.  Links to these materials will be embedded in the suggested email letter of request for their edification.  

Over a decade ago, the MGCSA began the process of protecting access to irrigation water on golf courses.  In the process several Best Management Practice manuals were created with support and recognition from the GCSAA, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the University of Minnesota, the Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Legislative Subcommittee on Minnesota Water Policy.  The MGCSA has attended countless hearings and provided testimony multiple times on behalf of environmental stewardship and irrigation efficiency on the golf course.  For five years the MGCSA has led the Minnesota Golf Industry through hosting an annual Day on The Hill legislative “meet and greet” opportunity that has been attended by many of our members.  Together, our hard work is paying off.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is taking our efforts seriously and have submitted to all golf courses with water appropriation permits a survey detailing conservation and efficiency efforts.  This may be the backbone of the program created through legislative mandate.  If you haven’t done so yet please complete the DNR survey that was delivered with your annual permit paperwork.

With three months left in the 2021 legislative session we need to move quickly.  Please utilize the templates and materials available on the MGCSA.org website Member’s Only page.  Please call you legislator if you know them personally.  Please pursue a snail-mail campaign by mailing your legislator a professional letter requesting support.  Please take that phone call from your representative or senator and discuss your concerns regarding water stewardship.

This initiative may take time to attain passage into law and implementation.  Be persistent, be consistent and be an advocate in protecting your livelihood.

Thank You,

Scott Thayer

President MGCSA

10050 204th Street North
Forest Lake, MN 55025
Office: 651 - 324 - 8873

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