Farmers caught illegally pumping water face stiff fines

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Editor’s note:
In a map put together by MPR last year, there are 26 irrigation wells in an area bounded by Benson, Appleton, Morris and Starbuck. In that same area, only eight of the wells had permits from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Most of those wells were along Minnesota Highway 9 west of Benson between Clontarf and Hancock. East of Benson and north of Minnesota Highway 9, there were four wells with only one permitted well.
Those who have yet to get their wells permitted could be facing stiff fines this summer.
Mark Steil
Minnesota Public Radio
Hoping to protect Minnesota’s groundwater supplies amid an irrigation boom, state officials this season will have new power to levy heavy fines on farmers pumping water illegally.
Last year, the Legislature authorized the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to fine violators as much as $20,000 without having to go to court. The agency begins enforcement in June.
The effort is part of the state’s goal to ramp up management of Minnesota’s ground water, and irrigation is a primary focus.

Photo:  There have been a growing number of unpermitted irrigation wells drilled in Minnesota in recent years.

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