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Minnesota's Impaired Waters List

Background

Water quality standards are fundamental tools that help protect Minnesota’s abundant and valuable water resources from pollution. “Beneficial uses” are the uses that water resources and their associated aquatic communities provide. Under the federal Clean Water Act, states are required to monitor and assess their waters to determine if they meet water quality standards and thereby support the beneficial uses they are intended to provide. Waters that do not meet their designated uses because of water quality standard violations are impaired. States are then required to develop a list of impaired waters that require TMDL studies, and to submit an updated list to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency every even-numbered year for approval.

Proposed 2014 Impaired Waters List

Updated every two years, Impaired Waters List consists three major components: the 303(d) (TMDL) List, the Inventory of Impaired Waters, and an “Appendix A” (waterbodies part of the Statewide Mercury TMDL). The TMDL List contains impairments that require Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) “cleanup” studies. The Inventory waters includes impairments in need of TMDLs, those with completed TMDLs that have not yet been restored, ”non-pollutant” impairments, and impairments due to natural sources. Appendix A is a list of mercury impairments, mainly for fish tissue concentration exceedences but also for water column mercury concentration exceedences.

The 2014 Proposed Impaired Waters List posted here was open for public comment, updated based on some of those comments, and sent to EPA for approval on April 15th, 2014. The List will remain Proposed until EPA approves it. Then the List’s status will change to Final.

  • MS Excel Document 2014 Proposed Impaired Waters List (PDF Version) (wq-iw1-47)  (Updated 4/15/2014) (Note that if you don’t have Excel 2010 you may not be able to view this document. Please email miranda.nichols@state.mn.us for an alternative version of the List.)

    • Includes:
      • Proposed 2014 TMDL (303(d)) List
      • Proposed 2014 Inventory of All Impaired Waters
      • Proposed Statewide Mercury TMDL, Appendix A (for more information see the Statewide Mercury TMDL webpage)
    • Plus:
      • A summary of impairments
      • Lists that tell you what’s new and what’s changed since the 2012 List
      • Informational tabs to help you interpret the document

The draft Impaired Waters 2014 List is a product of the MPCA’s refined approach to assessment that focuses on comprehensive assessment of water quality within major watersheds. For the 2014 List, the assessed watersheds are: Bois de Sioux, Big Fork, Cannon, Crow Wing, Lake Superior – South, Little Sioux, Long Prairie, Lower Big Sioux, Minnesota – Granite Falls (Yellow Medicine and Hawk Creek), Mustinka, Mississippi – Twin Cities, Mississippi – Winona (Whitewater), Nemadji, Redeye, Rock, Sandhill, Thief, and Upper Big Sioux. Most of the changes to the Impaired Waters List since the last version in 2012 are a result of assessments in these watersheds. Most of the changes to the List since the last version are a result of assessments in these watersheds as well as statewide assessments, done in 2013, for bacteria in Large Rivers, pesticides, and nitrates in drinking water.

  • See also our Impaired Waters Viewer for a map of all impairments finalized by the EPA, plus current delistings.

Notes on the wild rice sulfate standard

As part of the development of the draft 2014 303(d) Impaired Water List, the MPCA is committed to assessing waters for the 10 mg/L sulfate standard in Minnesota Rules 7050.0224, subpart 2, that protects “water used for production of wild rice during periods when the rice may be susceptible to damage by high sulfate levels.”  That work is ongoing. The MPCA plans to make the results of the wild rice sulfate standard assessments available in an addendum to this version of the 2014 303(d) Impaired Water List.

Prior to completing the wild rice sulfate assessments the MPCA intends to public notice the criteria used to determine which waters are “water used for production of wild rice.” The MPCA will solicit public comment on the criteria from interested parties through a formal public notice and comment process in the near future. The MPCA will use the criteria that emerge from that public process to determine which waters are water used for production of wild rice and subject to assessment and potential inclusion on the 303(d) 2014 Impaired Waters List due to impairment of the wild rice sulfate standard.

The Assessment Guidance Manual

The Guidance Manual describes Minnesota's monitoring and assessment strategy, assessment tools, and the redesigned assessment process. The purpose of this Guidance is to define the required data and information and lay out the criteria by which waterbodies are assessed to determine if beneficial uses are supported. The following is the 2014 Guidance Manual which was open for public comment, subsequently updated, and sent to EPA for review along with the 2014 Proposed Impaired Waters List.

Public participation

In 2013, the MPCA held a series of public meetings throughout the state to discuss the content of the 2014 Draft Impaired Waters List including the delistings, recategorizations, and proposed impairments. Each meeting was focused to discuss the assessments that have gone on in that region in the last two years and which have contributed to the 2014 List. If you are interested in the content of these meetings, please see the presentations below.

A formal public comment period was announced in the State Register and was held from January 2 through February 18, 2014. All comments received during that period, and the MPCA’s responses, were sent to EPA for review along with the 2014 Proposed Impaired Waters List. Below are the public comments received on the 2014 Draft Impaired Waters List and the MPCA’s responses.



Delisting: Background and decisions

Delisting refers only to the situation for which new and reliable data or information indicates that the waterbody is no longer impaired. The delisting summary documentation gives the following information for each waterbody that is delisted: assessment unit identification (AUID), waterbody name and description, impaired use, use classification, pollutant or stressor, year first listed, year delisted, and reason for delisting. For each waterbody that has been considered for delisting, the following summary documentation also provides information about any previous delisting reviews, the delisting decision, and reason for the decision.

  • PDF documentExcel document Delisting Decision Background and Delisting Decisions (wq-iw1-15)
  • For each waterbody that has been considered for delisting the summary documentation also provides information about any previous delisting reviews, the delisting decision, and reason for the decision.

  • See the Impaired Waters Viewer for an interactive map of all delisted waters. In the ‘View available data’ window check the boxes for both ‘Delisted: restored’ and ‘Delisted: new data’.

Final 2012 Impaired Waters List

Minnesota’s 2012 Impaired Waters List (which includes the state's TMDL or 303(d) List) contains 2171 impairments that require TMDL studies; 511 of those impairments are new listings. The Inventory of all impaired waters now totals 3,638, which includes impairments in need of TMDLs, those with completed TMDLs that have not yet been restored, and impairments due to natural sources.

MS Excel Document 2012 Impaired Waters List (PDF Version) (wq-iw1-46)

Includes:

  • Final 2012 TMDL (303(d)) List (approved by EPA 7/25/2013)
  • 2012 Inventory of All Impaired Waters
  • Final Statewide Mercury TMDL, Appendix A (approved by EPA 5/31/2013) (Note that a pdf version of the Appendix A is on the Statewide Mercury TMDL webpage.)

Plus:

  • A summary of impairments
  • Lists that tell you what’s new and what changed since the 2010 Final List
  • Informational tabs to help you interpret the document

Please see our Impaired Waters Viewer for a map of all impaired waters on the 2012 List.

The 2012 Impaired Water List was Minnesota’s last List to be approved by the EPA. Here is documentation of that approval, received May 31, 2013.

Guidance Manual archives

Contact information

To receive future email notices electronically, click on the “sign up” box on the upper right side of this page.

If you have further questions contact Miranda Nichols at 651-757-2614, 800-657-3864, or miranda.nichols@state.mn.us.

Last modified on June 20, 2014 11:31

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