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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.

Wild rice sulfate preliminary analysis

Several years in the making, this analysis begins to lay the scientific ground for a discussion of a wild rice sulfate standard. Scientific peer review, public policy discussion and deliberation will follow in the coming months.

Letter from MPCA commissioner John Stine

PDF Document Wild Rice Sulfate Standard Study Preliminary Analysis (wq-s6-42w)



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Last modified on March 13, 2014 13:09

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