Contact: Anne Perry Moore, 218-723-2356 Duluth, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has scheduled two meetings to gather public input on a proposed permit to regulate ballast water discharges from commercial ships into Lake Superior. Ballast water may contain aquatic invasive species that can damage water quality and the environment. Two meetings have been scheduled:
· Monday, March 3, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the MPCA St. Paul office Board Room, located at 520 Lafayette Road North,
· Tuesday, March 4, from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the MPCA Duluth office located at 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400.
The MPCA's proposed permit would require commercial ocean-going and Great Lakes-only vessels to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System (NPDES/SDS) permit prior to discharging ballast water into Lake Superior. Minnesota and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency NPDES/SDS permit rules currently exempt ballast water from permit requirements. These types of permits are currently required of domestic wastewater dischargers and a variety of industrial dischargers such as power plants. By extending these same requirements to ships, Minnesota expects to reduce the potential for serious environmental and economic impacts related to the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.
The MPCA permit would likely require best management practices and specific performance standards for the discharges. For example, a ballast water performance standard might specify an allowable number of living detectable organisms per cubic meter of water.
Currently, federal law does regulate some ballast water discharges, however the federal requirements and policies have not been fully effective in preventing biological invasions in the Great Lakes.
For more information about the public meetings, contact Mary Jean Fenske at 651-297-5472. For more information about the technical aspects of the proposed permit, contact Dave Kortan at 651-296-6010. Both may be reached toll-free at 1-800-657-3864.