Contact: Anne Perry Moore, 218-723-2356
Duluth, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has scheduled two informational meetings to gather public input on a working draft of a permit to regulate ballast water discharges from commercial ships into Lake Superior. Ballast water may contain aquatic invasive species that compete with native species for food and habitat, alter aquatic ecosystems and cause significant economic impact.
The meetings will be held at the MPCA St. Paul office board room, 520 Lafayette Road North, on Tuesday, April 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. The second meeting will be held at the MPCA Duluth office conference room, 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400, on Wednesday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to noon.
The MPCA is holding discussions as part of a larger, four-month public-input process resulting in a final ballast water permit that would be available by Sept. 30, 2008. That permit would require commercial ocean-going and Great Lakes-only vessels to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System permit prior to discharging ballast water into state waters. 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 not regulate ballast water discharges and existing federal ballast water management requirements and policies have not been effective in preventing biological invasions in the Great Lakes.
For more information about the informational 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. Information about the MPCA's vessel discharge regulation program can be found at www.pca.state.mn.us/programs/ballastwater.html.