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MN Bill Would Protect Public from Pesticides in Groundwater
(from March 27, 2003)

Legislation that would help protect Minnesota groundwater from pesticide contamination is one step closer to enactment. The bill, S.F. 782, Agricultural chemicals in groundwater monitoring responsibility transfer, passed out of the state Senate Health and Family Security Committee on March 25, 2003 and is being re-referred to the Judiciary Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Committee Chair Becky Lourey (DFL-Kerrick), would protect the public from water contaminated with pesticides by providing public access to information about community pesticide applications, and increasing the fee needed to register a pesticide. In addition, the bill modifies the definition of "pollutant," in an attempt to close loopholes that allow pesticides to evade strict controls. During the senate hearing, Janette Brimmer of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) stated, "Access to government information on pesticide application will allow consumers and parents to take proper precautions during spraying season. In addition, it will give researchers vital information for further study of the effects of pesticide application on people and the environment."

In its original form, the bill also provided that the responsibility for evaluating pesticide presence in groundwater be transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Health, who has more expertise in children's health and the effects of pesticides on children. The bill was later amended, keeping the responsibility to monitor groundwater with the Department of Agriculture (MDA). Greg Buzicky of the MDA said the bill was improved by the adoption of the amendment, stating the department has one of the best monitoring programs in the country. However, environmental groups are concerned. MCEA states that although MDA is "charged by law with regulating pesticides, including monitoring for them in the environment and preventing pesticides from getting into water," they have thus far "failed to fully safeguard our water."

According to MCEA, the toxic pesticides atrazine, metribuzin and metolachlor have been found in Minnesota's groundwater at levels exceeding health risk limits. Two other chemicals, alachlor and acetachlor, have been found in groundwater and may exceed health risk limits. MCEA presents their requirements for safer water in their initiative "Clean Groundwater Minnesota," many aspects of which are included in S.F. 782.

Read more about the bill at http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/committee/2003-2004/Health/update.htm.

Also, view the bill text and bill status.