Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972
St. Paul, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) invites public comment on a water quality report covering 18 sections of the Minnesota River, including eight tributaries. The report, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), focuses on turbid water caused primarily by sediment. The public comment period begins Feb. 27 and continues through April 27, 2012.
The Minnesota River flows 335 miles southeasterly from the Minnesota-South Dakota border to Mankato, and then northeasterly to its confluence with the Mississippi River near St. Paul. Native prairie and pothole wetlands once covered most of the river’s 16,770-square-mile basin. Today it's a patchwork of farms sprinkled with areas of urban and industrial development, with its outlet in a growing metropolitan area.
Turbidity of water is caused by suspended and dissolved matter, such as clay, silt, organic matter, and algae. High turbidity results in poor water quality for aquatic habitat, industrial use, and human consumption and recreation. Sediment is the main cause of turbidity in the Minnesota River and its tributaries. Sediment sources include uplands, ravines, and stream banks and bluffs.
Turbidity-impaired sections include nine on the mainstem of the river from Lac Qui Parle Lake to the city of Jordan, and the lower parts of the Chippewa, Redwood, Cottonwood, Blue Earth, Yellow Medicine, Watonwan and Le Sueur rivers as well as Hawk Creek.
The TMDL report is part of a nationwide effort under the federal Clean Water Act to identify and clean up pollution in streams, rivers and lakes. Every two years, states are required to submit a list of impaired waters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A TMDL report is a scientific study that calculates the maximum amount of a pollutant a water body can receive (known as the “loading capacity”) without exceeding water-quality standards.
After receiving public comments, the MPCA will revise the draft Minnesota River Turbidity TMDL and submit it to the EPA for approval. Following EPA approval, a plan will be developed to reduce turbidity through land-use practices that reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients entering lakes and streams. A citizen advisory committee, including farmers and technical experts, assisted in the development of the TMDL report.
The draft Minnesota River Turbidity TMDL is available on the MPCA website or at the agency’s St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road N. Comments may be sent to Larry Gunderson, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Rd. N., Saint Paul, MN 55155. For more information, contact Gunderson at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 651-757-2400.
Written comments must include (1) a statement of your interest in the draft TMDL report; (2) a statement of the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft TMDL that you believe should be changed; and (3) specific reasons supporting your position.
The public notice for the draft Minnesota River Turbidity TMDL is posted on the MPCA Public Notice webpage. Also on public notice is the draft South Metro Mississippi River TMDL, which addresses total suspended solids in the Mississippi, from its confluence with the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling to upper Lake Pepin at Red Wing.
More information on the state's impaired waters list and TMDL studies is available on the MPCA’s Impaired Waters and TMDLs webpage or toll-free at 800-657-3864.