Media contacts: Forrest Peterson, 320-214-3789
Nancy Miller, 507-280-3590
Technical contact: Steve Sommer, 651-282-5851
St. Paul, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has scheduled public meetings in Granite Falls and North Mankato on a proposed permit regulating phosphorus in wastewater treatment facility discharges in the Minnesota River Basin.
The meetings are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 20 at the Granite Falls Kilowatt Community Center, 600 Kilowatt Dr., and July 21 at the Best Western Inn near Highway 169 in North Mankato. The meetings will begin with informal discussion and displays, followed by an overview presentation at 6:30 p.m. and more time for questions.
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for living things, but too much can cause water pollution by promoting excessive algae growth. When large amounts of algae are consumed by bacteria it results in reduced levels of dissolved oxygen available for fish and other aquatic life. Algae also impairs water quality by contributing to turbidity or cloudiness.
The draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System general permit for phosphorus in the Minnesota River Basin is open for public comment through July 28, 2005. It will regulate phosphorus in the discharge from the current 143 municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities in the basin, and will also address 13 unsewered or undersewered communities.
The Minnesota River Basin encompasses nearly 17,000 square miles and is a major contributor of pollutants to the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. The initial goal of this permit is a combined 35 percent reduction in phosphorus discharges from existing levels by 2010. The ultimate goal is to limit phosphorus discharges from wastewater treatment facilities to 1 milligram per liter by 2015.
The 40 largest wastewater treatment facilities in the basin will be required to meet a limit on the total amount of phosphorus discharged from their facilities each year or engage in pollutant trading to meet that limit. In pollutant trading, a facility with excess wastewater treatment capacity may "sell" some to another that needs to reduce the amount of phosphorus in its discharge. The permit will also include more than 100 smaller wastewater treatment facilities; however these facilities will not be subject to a phosphorus limit under this permit unless they expand.
The phosphorus permit is a major tool in a Total Maximum Daily Load project to increase the level of dissolved oxygen during low flow periods in the Minnesota River from Shakopee to its confluence with the Mississippi River. When river flows are low, wastewater treatment facility discharges are a major source of phosphorus. More information about TMDL projects is available on the MPCA Web site at/water/tmdl/index.html.
Comments on the draft general National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit should be submitted in writing to Steve Sommer, MPCA Municipal Division, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN, 55155-4194, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, by 4:30 p.m., Thursday, July 28, 2005. Copies of the draft general permit are available on the Web at/permits, and also by calling 1-800-657-3864. General information on the MPCA phosphorus strategy is available at:/water/phosphorus.html.