Coldwater Journal is a record of personal observations and reflections from visits to the Coldwater campus.

Please feel free to submit your thoughts and reflections about Coldwater for posting here on the FRIENDS of COLDWATER site via email.
2015
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An Inconvenient Law

Coldwater Journal
Wednesday, 05.13.15 
Can an “inconvenient law” protect the sacred Coldwater Spring?
(Coldwater) A team of us spent three years lobbying at the State Capitol to get the Coldwater protection law through committees, approved on the floor and signed by the governor in 2001.

The Law: Protection of the Natural Flow
Coldwater Spring House and Reservoir 1997, “Spirit Tree” background right.
National Park Service clear cut the Coldwater campus in 2011.
Photo Credits: Friends of Coldwater
For BIG view click here
Neither the state, nor a unit of metropolitan government, nor a political subdivision of the state may take any action that may diminish the flow of water to or from Camp Coldwater Springs.

The language of the law is specific, forbidding “any action that may diminish the flow.” Not “temporary” dewatering, not “permanent” dewatering—no “action that may diminish.”

A proposed Metropolitan Council sewer replacement construction calls for two years of dewatering and simultaneous daily monitoring of the flow at Coldwater.

Before Highway 55 reconstruction, about 130,000 gallons per day was measured at Coldwater Springs. Since 2002 there has been a constant decline—27,500 is pumped out and another 18,500 leaks away. That is a loss of 46,000 gallons per day, or 35%—more than a third.

Emergence Landscape of the Dakota Nation and Birthplace of Minnesota
Coldwater is at least 10,000 years old, the last natural major spring in Hennepin County and a Dakota Tribal Sacred Site and Traditional Cultural Property, according to the Ethnographic study commissioned by the National Park Service, which immediately rejected the findings. However the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office agrees with the study. Before Coldwater was a historic landmark it was a sacred site.

Coldwater is the Birthplace of Minnesota, where a civilian community developed around Fort Snelling to supply the army with servants, wives and midwives, baby sitters, traders, translators, blacksmiths, meat, lumber, missionaries and liquor.

Coldwater furnished water to Fort Snelling for a century, 1820-1920. Dred Scott drank at Coldwater when he was stationed at the fort between 1836 and 1840. He met and married his wife, Harriet, here and used his residency in the then-free Wisconsin Territory and in Illinois to sue for freedom from slavery. In 1857 the Supreme Court found that because Dred Scott was African American, whether slave or free, he could not be an American citizen and therefore had no right to bring a case into federal court. African Americans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1868; for Native Americans it was 1924 with religious freedom legalized in 1978.

Before Coldwater was the Birthplace of Minnesota it was a traditional gathering and ritual site for Upper Mississippi Indian nations including: Dakota, Anishinabe, Ho Chunk, Iowa, Sauk and Fox. In 1976 Coldwater was an emergency drinking water supply for South Minneapolis where water was “putrid with algae.” Coldwater, the ever-flowing spring above the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, is arguably the most historic land in the state.

There is a quarter mile drop down the Mississippi gorge from where the spring bubbles out of limestone bedrock to Misi Zipi, “big long river.” It is the only true river gorge on the entire 2,350-mile length of the river. At the place where Coldwater Creek empties into the Mississippi the bedrock is 451 million years old.

When does no mean no?
During a sexual assault? At a stop sign? When there’s development money at stake?

The Metropolitan Council never mentions the Coldwater protection law in its “Project Narrative.” Vague language about the spring admits that “contingency plans” are unknown, that conditions are “unforeseeable,” that an observer will be on site to come up with “reasonable solutions.”

Planners are “confident” about “restoring” the spring. There is a “low risk of permanent impact to the flow,” however a 10 to 20% variation in the flow at Coldwater is “hard to tell.” Red flag this circumlocution.

The other appointed agency involved in the sewer project is the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District with final permitting authority, without enforcement power. Administrator Lars Erdahl opines, “The District, of course, does not have the power to ‘change’ any act of the legislature. In its permitting decision, the District will apply the law. As is regularly the case, in order to apply the law to the present specific circumstances, the District will need to interpret the simple language of the law, and will follow established principles in doing so.”

Is it really cheaper to permit the Met Council plan than to reroute the existing sewer and replace the pipe in situ? What is Coldwater worth? And why are environmental and police institutions routinely operating outside the law?

—Susu Jeffrey

Versions of this article first appeared in Southside Pride and the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
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Coldwater Journal
Monday, 04.20.15 
Update: Sewer Project Postponed Again
(Coldwater) The Met Council’s 2-year dewatering project affecting Coldwater has been postponed—this time until Fall 2015.

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) permit coordinator, Thomas Dietrich, writes: “The consideration of the Met Council permit for the tunnel improvements project has been postponed for several months so that additional analysis and outreach can be conducted by the applicant. The Met Council project manager had indicated that the additional analysis would likely be complete in late summer or early fall.”

Mr. Dietrich’s description of “tunnel improvement” for this project is misleading. Plans call for a complete new sanitary sewer pipe in a different place from the existing pipe. Apparently project planners are running into serious analysis snafus. The Thursday, April 23, MCWD Board of Managers meeting will not include rejection or approval of this sanitary sewer project. In view of the delays since January this does not appear to be an emergency sewer replacement situation.

Before Highway 55 reconstruction, about 130,000 gallons per day was measured. Since 2002 there has been a constant decline, 27,500 is pumped out and another 18,500 leaks away. That is a loss of 46,000 gallons per day or 35-percent—more than a third.

The 2001 Coldwater protection law mandates “no loss of flow” to or from the springs. The language of the law is specific, forbidding "any action that may diminish the flow." Not "temporary" dewatering, not "permanent" dewatering—no "action that may diminish." The Met Council proposed plan does not address the law.

Every prayer, every letter, every phone call helps to protect and preserve this ancient sacred landscape. Take action. Ask that sewer construction be redesigned with respect to the law and Native American history at this ancient site.
 
Adam Duininck, Chair, Metropolitan Council, 651-602-1390 or adam.duininck@metc.state.mn.us What about acknowledging the Coldwater protection state law?
 
Lars Erdahl, Administrator, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, 952-641-4505 or lerdahl@minnehahacreek.org.This is the Local Government Authority (LGA) that made the deal with MnDOT that resulted in the loss of 27,500 gallons a day at Coldwater since Hwy 55 construction ended (2002). If the Watershed District does not protect the watershed, it is just another development agency.
 
The local National Park Service (NPS) does not accept Coldwater as a Dakota Tribal Sacred Site or Traditional Cultural Property designation although Coldwater was found to be eligible in the NPS Ethnographic study (2006). What is the local NPS doing to protect and preserve the flow to Coldwater from another construction project?

Please contact NPS Superintendent John Anfinson at 651-293-8432, john_anfinson@nps.gov or acting head of Cultural and Natural Resources Alan Robbins-Fenger at 651-293-8438 or alan_robbins_fenger@nps.gov.
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Coldwater Journal
April 2015
APPOINTED OFFICIALS SET TO OKAY ILLEGAL PROJECT
(Coldwater) Two sets of appointed officials are lined up to okay a project that explicitly violates the law. The greater Twin Cities Metropolitan Council is promoting sewer replacement construction that contravenes the Coldwater protection law by threatening the flow to this 10,000 year old spring.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is set to permit the project with assurances about "contingency plans" for unforeseen circumstances, "restoring" Coldwater Springs after "temporary" dewatering, and orders to monitor the spring daily during the 2-year construction project.

Take action. Ask that sewer construction be redesigned with respect to the law and Native American history at this ancient site.
 
Adam Duininck, Chair, Metropolitan Council, 651-602-1390 or adam.duininck@metc.state.mn.us. What about acknowledging the Coldwater protection state law?

Lars Erdahl, Administrator, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, 952-641-4505 or lerdahl@minnehahacreek.org. This is the Local Government Authority (LGA) that made the deal with MnDOT that resulted in the loss of 27,500 gallons a day at Coldwater since Hwy 55 construction ended (2002).

The local National Park Service (NPS) does not accept Coldwater as a Dakota Tribal Sacred Site or Traditional Cultural Property designation although Coldwater was found to be eligible in the NPS Ethnographic study (2006). What is the local NPS doing to protect and preserve the flow to Coldwater from another construction project?

Please contact NPS Superintendent John Anfinson at 651-293-8432, john_anfinson@nps.gov or acting head of Cultural and Natural Resources Alan Robbins-Fenger at 651-293-8438 or alan_robbins_fenger@nps.gov.

THE LAW
  
Section 1.  [PROTECTION OF NATURAL FLOW.]
Neither the state, nor a unit of metropolitan government, nor a political subdivision of the state may take any action that may diminish the flow of water to or from Camp Coldwater Springs.  All projects must be reviewed under the Minnesota Historic Sites Act and the Minnesota Field Archaeology Act with regard to the flow of water to or from Camp Coldwater Springs. (passed in 2001)
 
The language of the law is specific, forbidding "any action that may diminish the flow." Not "temporary" dewatering, not permanent dewatering—no "action that may diminish."

The language of the contingency planning (below) is slippery.

Coldwater is the last major natural spring in Hennepin County, is where the soldiers who built Fort Snelling lived (1820-23) and where a civilian pioneer community gathered to service the fort. Some consider Coldwater to be the birthplace of Minnesota. The spring furnished water to Fort Snelling 1820-1920.

THE PROJECT:
Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) project 1-MN-344 Tunnel Improvement

A sanitary sewer pipe is scheduled to be replaced at the north end of Minnehaha Park. It is an underground construction, about 45 to 50 feet below the surface, with two 18-foot diameter access shafts cut through bedrock at either end, and a 44 by 60-foot subsurface vault. Groundwater "will just flow around" these subterranean buried structures after construction planners reported at Minnehaha Creek Watershed District board meeting (1/29/15).
 
A replacement 1,000-foot pipe would run horizontally below Minnehaha Creek, the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line and Highway 55 to replace a 1930s-era sanitary sewer pipe. The project is scheduled to run for two years from this summer to June of 2017.
 
Both groundwater and deep well dewatering is planned that is, pumping water out from above the limestone bedrock and below in the sandstone. Daily monitoring at Coldwater is called for.

Assurances by experts of "no loss of flow" from the Highway 55 reroute resulted in the permanent loss of nearly a quarter of the flow to Coldwater. MnDOT was court-ordered to monitor the spring flow for 20 months post-construction. Despite the Coldwater protection law a permanent, daily loss of flow of 27,500 gallons was reported.

Before Highway 55 reroute construction the flow to Coldwater was measured at about 130,000 gallons a day. Now the flow rate is about 84,000 gallons daily. Adding the 27,500 daily dewatering lost to Coldwater to the current flow of 84,000—there is a mystery loss of more than 18,000 gallons.

CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR PROBLEMS
 
Consultants at the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District meeting admitted that the "contingency plans" are unknown, that conditions are "unforeseeable," that an observer will be on site to come up with "reasonable solutions."
 
--A 10 to 20 percent variation in the flow at Coldwater is "hard to tell."

--There is a "low risk of permanent impact to the flow." Planners are "confident" about "restoring" the spring.

During Highway 55 reroute construction a grit chamber was cut into limestone bedrock at Minnehaha Park at 50th Street, one mile north of Coldwater. The result was dewatering at a rate of 500 gallons per minute for several months. There was a "measureable reduction of flow to the spring."

That grit chamber cut intercepted a main limestone fracture that leads to Coldwater. The proposed sewer bedrock cuts are just 1.5 miles north of Coldwater, a half mile north of the great dewatering cut during Highway 55 reroute construction.

ANCIENT SACRED LANDSCAPE

Sacred landscape is a reality not common in the dominate world. So it was not surprising when Minnehaha Creek Watershed District board managers wondered why the Coldwater protection law was written so narrowly.

The National Park Service (NPS), the agency that claims to "own" Coldwater Springs, acknowledges Coldwater as a "sacred site" by virtue of paper work submitted by a federally recognized Dakota band. Outside the legal recognition process Anishinabe (Ojibwa) spiritual elders also consider the spring sacred.

Many ceremonies have been held at the spring. The NPS actually called in an armed guard during a Dakota pipe ceremony September 1, 2012 for lack of a "special use permit." Those permits were not being issued at the time because the land was "fragile."

Based on recommendations in the 2006 Ethnographic Study contracted by NPS, Coldwater would be a Dakota Tribal Sacred Site and a Traditional Cultural Property. NPS rejected the study's findings. One official explaining the dismissal said "they didn't write down their stories"—a bizarre critique of an oral culture.

"Traditional Cultural Property" is a landscape that is not limited in importance to one Native American tribe or one time period, it is generically special land. Coldwater is considered to be at least 10,000 years old and is the first big spring north of the dramatic Mississippi-Minnesota confluence.

Dakota people were the latest Native nation living here in 1803 when the U.S. concluded the Louisiana Purchase. People have been in the confluence area since the glaciers melted. A 9,000-year old bison spear point was found at the Sibley House archaeological dig in Mendota (1996). The site was a backwater of the confluence where a bison, twice the size of today's buffaloes, got stuck in the muck, speared and eaten.
 
Dakota teachers say Un K'te Hi, a powerful spirit of water and the underworld, dwells at Coldwater. It is not just any spring but the spring linked to Taku Wakan Tipi (Something Sacred Dwells Here) a traditional Dakota burial mound at the Veteran's Administration pushed up by Un K'te Hi from an underground water passage (such as a limestone fracture) between Coldwater and the hill.

Religious mythology typically includes a geographic place and a story. Bounties on Indian scalps were paid by the state of Minnesota into the 20th century. The Indian wars are not over and we are entering the period of the water wars.

THE ALTERNATIVE
 
The alternative of replacing the sewer pipe in situ was dismissed as too hard to get to, too expensive. It would involve temporary rerouting of the sewage for the construction period.

In 2005 Minnehaha watershed engineer Mike Panzer said "There is an appearance of a gradual downward trend in flow over the past 6 or 7 years." This is what concerns Coldwater supporters, a constant degradation of the spring. With every cut Coldwater bleeds water.

What is Coldwater worth? It was used as an emergency drinking water supply for south Minneapolis in the summer of 1976 when city water was putrid with algae. What happens to the water happens to the people.

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The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District will vote whether to approve a 2-year sewer project as soon as the permit application is complete. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for Thursday evening, April 23, 2015, at 6:45 pm. The date is not certain. To be sure, call 952-471-0590 or 952-641-4518.
DIRECTIONS: Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, 15320 Minnetonka Blvd. (basement meeting room) Minnetonka MN 55345, 952-471-0590.
The office is west of I-494 on Minnetonka Blvd. At the traffic light on Minnetonka Blvd. at Williston Road, continue driving west past The Marsh (fitness center). MCWD is in a small shopping center, not well lighted, on the north (right) side of the road. Park in front or behind.

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Coldwater Journal
January 2015
Public Trust Doctrine: People's Inalienable Right
(Coldwater) Nature's Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age is a book by Mary Christina Wood a legal scholar who traces this public trust doctrine all the way back to ancient Rome.

Government is a trustee of the resources that support our public welfare and survival. In the case of the public trust, the beneficiaries are the present and future generations of citizens.

In fact, this was articulated by the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a landmark public trust decision in 2013. And the decision basically overturned a statute that the Pennsylvania Legislature had passed to promote fracking.

The Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Chief Justice Castille, said this violates the public trust. He began his opinion by saying that citizens hold inalienable environmental rights to assure the habitability of their communities.

These rights are ensconced in the social contract that citizens make with government. They are inherent and reserved. So they are of a constitutional nature. And the point of the public trust is that the citizens hold these constitutional rights in an enduring natural endowment that is supposed to support all future generations of citizens in this country.

This is so basic to democracy, in fact, the late Joseph Sax (environmental legal pioneer) said the trust distinguishes a society of citizens from serfs.

The public trust doctrine is not just an environmental issue. This is a civilizational issue.

Excerpted from a Bill Moyers program. Please click here.
 
-—S.J.

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