MPCA Wants Public Input on Water Quality Standards

Proposed amendments include standards for herbicides acetochlor and metolachlor.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is proposing to adopt updated water quality standards that will help protect Minnesota's lakes, rivers and streams.

One proposed addition addresses excess nutrients in lakes, which can cause eutrophication, a process that leads to algae blooms and loss of water clarity. Included are standards for phosphorus, the main cause of eutrophication, and standards for measurements of algal abundance and water clarity.

The MPCA is also proposing to require new or expanding wastewater treatment plants to remove phosphorus from treated water if they discharge more than 1,800 pounds of the pollutant per year. These new limits on phosphorus discharges will help protect rivers, reservoirs and some lakes from eutrophication. Implementation of lake standards and new phosphorus effluent limits, along with public awareness, will protect Minnesota's water resources from excess nutrients.

Other major proposed amendments to the rule include:

  • a fish tissue standard for mercury
  • water quality standards for two commonly used herbicides - acetochlor and metolachlor
  • replacement of the fecal coliform bacteria standards with E. coli standards to protect waters for swimming
  • water use classification changes.

The MPCA will be holding formal public hearings statewide in August and September to gather testimony on the proposed rule changes. The hearings will include short presentations by MPCA staff describing the changes the agency is considering, opportunities for the public to ask questions, and provide either written or oral testimony regarding the amendments to Minn. Rules chapters 7050, 7056 and 7065. The proposed changes are part of a requirement in the federal Clean Water Act for states to update their standards every three years.

Additional information on the proposed changes can be found on the MPCA's Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us/water/standards/rulechange.html#links and in the State Register on July 23, 2007 at www.comm.media.state.mn.us/bookstore/state_register.asp.  

The public hearings are scheduled as follows:
-- Wednesday, Aug. 29 - MPCA St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul.
-- Thursday, Aug. 30 - MPCA St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul.
-- Tuesday, Sept. 4 - MPCA Duluth office, 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400, Duluth.
-- Wednesday, Sept. 5 - MPCA Brainerd office, 7678 College Road, Suite 105, Baxter.
-- Thursday, Sept. 6 - MPCA Detroit Lakes office, 714 Lake Avenue, Suite 220, Detroit Lakes.
-- Tuesday, Sept. 11 - MPCA Marshall office, 1420 East College Drive, Suite 900, Marshall.
-- Wednesday, Sept. 12 - MPCA Rochester office, 18 Wood Lake Drive Southeast, Rochester.

If necessary: Thursday, Sept. 13 - MPCA St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul. Call the MPCA rulemaking contact listed below to find out if this extra meeting will be held.

All interested persons or groups are invited to attend one or more of these public hearings. Additional details about meeting start times and directions to all offices listed above are available on the MPCA Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us/water/standards/rulechange.html.  

Persons wishing to comment on the proposed changes may also call, e-mail or write:
David Maschwitz, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194; 651-296-7255, toll-free at 1-800-657-3864; Fax 651-297-7709; [email protected]

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