Kandiyohi County postpones decision on buffer law enforcement
WILLMAR, Minn. -- With several days to go until the Minnesota Legislature adjourns, the Kandiyohi County Board is delaying a decision on the county's role in enforcing the new state waterway buffer law.
WILLMAR, Minn. - With several days to go until the Minnesota Legislature adjourns, the Kandiyohi County Board is delaying a decision on the county's role in enforcing the new state waterway buffer law.
The county will have a more clear picture once the session is over and bills are signed, Larry Kleindl, county administrator, said Tuesday.
"I can't in good conscience make a recommendation to you without knowing what rules we're going to play by," he told the County Board.
The eventual decision will be significant for the County Commissioners. They must determine whether Kandiyohi County takes on the responsibility for ensuring local compliance with the buffer law. Doing so will help preserve some measure of local control, but will almost certainly require more resources and more spending.
If the county opts not to do its own enforcement, the responsibility would fall to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.
The County Commissioners also have contemplated a third option: handling the enforcement but only if the state commits to providing sustainable funding for it.
Minnesota's new buffer law requires vegetation strips alongside streams, rivers, lakes and other waterways, including drainage ditches. It takes effect Nov. 1 of this year for public waterways and Nov. 1, 2018, for public drainage systems.
The buffer strips are meant to reduce runoff and protect water quality. Some aspects of the law have been controversial, however, at times pitting farmers against environmentalists. Some rural landowners view the buffer strip requirement as an unlawful taking of their property.
The County Commissioners gave no indication Tuesday which way they are leaning, although discussion about the buffer law has been ongoing for many months.
They were in consensus, however, that it's best to put off any action until the Legislature adjourns.
"We don't have the information to make our decision today," said Roger Imdieke, board chairman.
Kleindl said there's a bill that contains some buffer enforcement funding for counties but it's still advancing through the process and the final language is uncertain.