(a) Groundwater discharge from natural springs and seepage areas in the driftless area of Minnesota, corresponding to the area of the state contained within the boundaries of the Department of Natural Resources Paleozoic plateau ecological section, is vital to sustaining the coldwater aquatic ecosystems in the region, as well as the recreational, commercial, agricultural, environmental, aesthetic, and economic well-being of the region.
(b) Within the boundaries of the Department of Natural Resources Paleozoic plateau ecological section, no excavation or mining of silica sand, including, but not limited to, digging, excavating, mining, drilling, blasting, tunneling, dredging, stripping, or shafting, may occur within one mile of a designated trout stream as listed in Minnesota Rules unless a silica sand mining trout stream setback permit has been issued by the commissioner.
(c) Before issuing a permit under this section, the commissioner shall:
(1) require a project proposer to do a hydrogeological evaluation and collect any other information necessary to assess potential impacts to hydrogeological features, including private and public drinking water supply wells; and
(2) identify appropriate setbacks from designated trout streams, springs, and other hydrogeologic features and any other restrictions necessary to protect trout stream water quantity, quality, and habitat.
(d) The commissioner may assess the project proposer fees to cover the reasonable costs of duties performed under this section.