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New Water Quality Standards for River Eutrophication and Total Suspended Solids

Confluence of the Cannon River with brown water and the Wolf River with green water. example of rivers containing high levels of TSS and algae (eutrophication) Photo credit: Steve Heiskary, MPCAExample of rivers containing high levels of TSS and algae (eutrophication)

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s 2008 Clean Water Act Review identified a number of areas of potential amendment to the State of Minnesota water quality standards. The amendments addressed in this rulemaking are one of several rulemaking efforts that the MPCA will initiate as a result of that review process. The amendments in this rulemaking address:

  • River Eutrophication - The MPCA proposes standards to address nutrient enrichment of rivers and streams, Mississippi River navigational pools and Lake Pepin (collectively referred to as “river eutrophication standards”). In developing the proposed river eutrophication standards, the MPCA followed a reasonable and well-established scientific approach that considered relevant guidance, studies, and Minnesota-specific data, while focusing on the important responsibility of protecting Minnesota’s waters from eutrophication.
  • Total Suspended Solids (TSS) – The MPCA proposes amendments to replace the existing turbidity standards with regionally-based TSS standards. The proposed amendments are needed to bring State standards up to the current level of technical understanding of the impact of suspended solids on water quality and aquatic communities. The proposed TSS standards are a reasonable mechanism to recognize geographic differences and long-term, multi-year data.
  • Minor “housekeeping” revisions and re-phrasings of supporting rule language- The MPCA proposes minor corrections and supporting changes in Minnesota Rule chs. 7050 and 7053, including an updated map of  Minnesota Ecoregions.

Petition for Administrative Stay

The MPCA received a petition seeking an administrative stay of the June 24, 2014, decision of the MPCA Citizens’ Board. On July 22, 2014, the members of the board voted to deny that petition.

Documents related to the petition.

Technical Support Documents

Rulemaking Documents

Requests for comments

As part of its effort to obtain public input into this rulemaking, the MPCA has published three formal Requests for Comment, in addition to holding a number of public meetings. The comments and information submitted in response to those Requests are still part of the rulemaking record and continue to be considered in the development of the rule amendments.

Requests for Comment may be viewed in archived State Registers for: July 28, 2008, March 2, 2009, and June 11, 2012.

Hearing and post-hearing information

A hearing on the proposed amendments was held on January 8, 2014, and the comment period closed on February 4, 2014..

Statement of Need and Reasonableness

The MPCA has prepared a Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) regarding the proposed amendments. The SONAR is divided in four Books. Book 1 provides an overview of the Water Quality Standards, the amendments being proposed and how the MPCA has met the administrative requirements for rulemaking. Book 2 discusses the need for and reasonableness of the proposed Eutrophication standards for rivers, streams, Mississippi River pools and Lake Pepin. Book 3 discusses the need for and reasonableness of the proposed revision of the turbidity standard to a standard of Total Suspended Solids. Book 4 provides a rule by rule analysis of each of the amendments being proposed.

The rule amendments being proposed are presented in Revisor’s format below. They may also be viewed as they are published in the November 18, 2013 State Register.

January 8, 2014 Public hearing exhibits and transcripts

Comments received:

Adopted Rules

U.S. EPA Approval

Schedule/Public Participation Opportunities

Stage of rulemaking



Request for Comments

Completed (published July 28, 2008, March 2, 2009, June 11, 2012)

Drafting of rule language/SONAR


Pre-proposal public engagement period

Pre-proposal draft rule posted on June 7, 2013

Public Comment Period/Notice Of Hearing

Notice of Hearing published in November 18, 2013, State Register. Hearings were held on January 8, 2014.

Post-Comment Period/Administrative Law Judge Review

The post-hearing public comment period is closed. The report of the Administrative Law Judge was released on May 2, 2014, and is posted in the Rulemaking Documents tab on this webpage.

Adoption of Rules

The rules were adopted at the June 24, 2014, meeting of the MPCA Citizens' Board. The MPCA Citizen’s Board will consider a petition to stay/reconsider the adoption of the rules at the July 22, 2014 meeting. A webcast of the meeting is available on the MPCA Citizens' Board page.

U.S. EPA Review and Approval

Approved January 23, 2015

Contact information

Questions about the status of the rulemaking, public meetings/hearings or how to submit comments:

Carol Nankivel


Last modified on January 27, 2015 10:54