ST. PAUL—Greater Minnesota cities have banded together to pursue legal action against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) over concerns that new water quality standards could result in massive costs to their communities with little environmental benefit.

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC), along with the Minnesota Environmental Science and Economic Review Board, League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, filed an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals Friday challenging new standards for the state’s rivers and streams recently adopted by the MPCA.

The CGMC, which represents many communities that own and operate wastewater treatment systems, joined in the appeal based on concerns that the new standards will cause rivers and streams to be identified as “impaired” by excess nutrients, when they are not. This will cost Minnesota households and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars and will not result in any measurable improvement to water quality.

The overreaching and costly standards adopted by the MPCA have not been implemented in any other states and the science used to develop these new regulations is flawed. Documents provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not endorse, and in some cases recommended against some of the approaches the MPCA adopted.

“Everyone supports clean water and we all understand there is a cost to ensuring that, but this time state regulations have gone too far,” said Heidi Omerza, CGMC president and a member of the Ely City Council. “Minnesota communities have already made huge investments in protecting water quality, and our residents and businesses cannot afford to be saddled with extreme additional costs that will not result in environmental benefits.”

David Lane, MESERB president and environmental coordinator for the Rochester Water Reclamation Plant, agreed. “As wastewater treatment professionals, it is our duty as public stewards to protect water quality as well as ensure that ratepayer dollars are spent wisely,” he said. “The foundation of good environmental regulation is good science, and that is lacking here. It would be a disservice for us not to challenge these standards, which will seriously interfere with our obligation to provide high-quality treatment services at an affordable cost.”

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