Dayton vetoes bill repealing wild rice water standards

Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed a bill that would nullify a water quality standard that’s meant to protect wild rice.

The legislation passed by the Republican Legislature would have nixed a largely unenforced 1973 law limiting sulfate discharges into water where wild rice grows to 10 milligrams per liter. Supporters argued that standard is outdated and would cost mining companies hundreds of millions of dollar. Opponents argued those standards protect a food that’s integral to Ojibwe culture.

Dayton had previously indicated he’d veto the bill if it wasn’t changed. He followed through on that promise Wednesday.

The Democratic governor says the bill was an “extreme overreach” that would guarantee ongoing lawsuits. He says lawmakers have enough time to reach a workable compromise before the Legislature adjourns May 21.