Minnesota’s sulfate standard to protect wild rice
Wild rice is an important part of the ecosystems of many Minnesota lakes and streams. Wild rice is also a cultural resource to many Minnesotans, and is an important economic resource to those who harvest and market it.
Past studies have shown that wild rice is primarily found in waters with relatively low sulfate concentrations. In Minnesota, most sulfate in surface water comes naturally from soils and groundwater. But sulfate can also be in discharges from permitted facilities such as mining operations, wastewater treatment plants, and other industrial facilities.
In 1973, Minnesota adopted a water quality standard to protect wild rice — both natural stands and commercial rice fields. This 10 mg/liter sulfate upper limit protects “water used for production of wild rice during periods when the rice may be susceptible to damage by high sulfate levels.” These wild rice stands can be existing stands in a water body, or they can be previously documented stands present within a water body dating back to November 28, 1975.
MPCA releases draft recommendation to protect wild rice
The MPCA has released its draft proposal for protecting wild rice from excess sulfate, including a proposed draft approach to the wild rice water quality standard and a draft list of waters where the standard would apply and criteria for adding waters to that list over time as new or additional information becomes available. Details are available on the
Draft proposal for protecting wild rice from excess sulfate webpage.
Study and process of revising the standard
Research about sulfate standard, advisory committee, and rulemaking
Assessment of waters used for wild rice production
Details about data collection, what waters are surveyed, and the evaluation methods
Maps and infographics
Visuals supporting current study and discussions
- General questions: Patricia Engelking, 651-757-2340, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rulemaking — water used for production of wild rice: Bill Cole, 651-757-5359, email@example.com
- Wild Rice Standards Study research: Edward Swain, 651-757-2772, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wild Rice Standards Study Advisory Committee: Patricia Engelking, 651-757-2340, email@example.com
- Current implementation of wild rice sulfate standard: Katrina Kessler, 651-757-2490, firstname.lastname@example.org