Statement from DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen about proposed out-of-state water transfer

November 1, 2019

The DNR is aware of a proposal by Empire Builder Investments to supply groundwater from Minnesota to the western United States by railcar. The company has not yet submitted a water appropriation permit application, but has requested a preliminary well assessment. A preliminary well assessment, required under state law, is an early stage review designed to identify potential issues before a proposer invests in equipment or well drilling.

Under Minnesota law, the DNR regulates the use of both groundwater and surface water. The agency must manage public water resources for the benefit of the State of Minnesota, including future generations. We must ensure that water appropriations are reasonable, practical, and adequately protect public safety and promote the public welfare.

Based on our initial review of the Empire Builder request, we are notifying the company today that we see virtually no scenario where the DNR would grant a water appropriation permit for the project, as it does not appear it could meet applicable statutory requirements, including significant restrictions on use of the Mt. Simon aquifer.