MPCA seeks comments on report about chloride pollution reduction for 37 metro waters

Contact: Taylor Holland, 651-757-2385

St. Paul, Minn. — A new report by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recommends restoring 37 surface waters and protecting surface water and groundwater for chloride in the seven-county metro area. The draft Chloride Management Plan (CMP) and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report developed for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area are available for public review and comment through Sept. 2, 2015.

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The plan characterizes the impacts of chloride on water resources across the Twin Cities. Chloride pollution occurs when salt used for de-icing and water softening makes its way into lakes, streams and wetlands. This happens through snow melt and wastewater discharge or septic systems. Once in the water, chloride remains in the environment and continues to accumulate over time.

For waters where chloride levels exceed water quality standards, a TMDL was developed to quantify pollutant levels in impaired water bodies, identify the sources of the pollution, and propose ways to restore water. Implementation strategies include improved practices for de-icing roads, parking lots and sidewalks. These practices not only benefit water quality, but also lead to long-term cost-savings as a result of purchasing less salt, reducing impacts on vegetation, and preventing corrosion of infrastructure and vehicles.

A key challenge in reducing salt usage is balancing the need for public safety with the growing expectation for clear, dry roads, parking lots, and sidewalks throughout the winter. Notable efforts to improve winter maintenance and reducing salt usage while maintaining public safety have already been made by a number of road authorities. The Chloride Management Plan is intended to build on those efforts and assist agencies, local governments and other stakeholders to determine salt reduction strategies to restore and protect Minnesota’s water resources.

The plan was developed in partnership with several organizations across the metro and the state. Their contribution to this plan and commitment to the issue allowed the plan to reflect a comprehensive and strategic approach to reducing salt use, while also maintaining public needs.

The report is available on the MPCA’s Public Notices webpage or at the MPCA’s St. Paul office, at 520 Lafayette Road North.

Comments on the report should be submitted in writing by Sept. 2, 2015, by 4:30 PM to Brooke Asleson, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194, or Asleson is available to answer questions by phone at 651-757-2205.

Written comments must include a statement of your interest in the report; a statement of the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft report you believe should be changed; and specific reasons for your position.

The TMDL reports identifies how much of a particular pollutant — chloride, in this case — water bodies in the area can receive and still meet water quality standards. After the public comment period, the draft TMDL report will need to receive final approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.

More information is available on the MPCA's Impaired Waters and TMDLs webpage.