The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Citizens Board adopted numeric nutrient standards for rivers and streams at a meeting on Tuesday. The standards will now go to the Governor’s Office for a final review before being forwarded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for final review and approval, which is expected to take 30 to 60 days.

If implemented, the impact to our communities could be dramatic. The standards adopted will likely mean that thousands of stream miles, whether in major rivers or tiny creeks, will now be labeled as impaired. This will in turn result in billions of dollars in unnecessary treatment, and skyrocketing sewer rates for industrial, commercial and residential customers.

Twenty organizations, including the CGMC, sent a letter to the MPCA Citizens Board on March 20, requesting an independent peer review of the draft nutrient standards. The MPCA sent a response almost three months later, on June 18, claiming that enough peer review had already been done and that an independent review would unnecessarily delay the rulemaking process. CGMC Environmental Lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel testified before the Citizens Board about the impact to our communities. Several board members pointed to her testimony and stated that they had significant concerns about these impacts. Rather than voting against the standards, however, they asked that the MPCA continue to monitor and work with cities to ameliorate the impact.

The CGMC is evaluating its next steps and will provide updates on this issue. Questions can be directed to Elizabeth Wefel at eawefel@flaherty-hood.com.