MPCA seeks comments on water quality reports for Sand Hill River Watershed

Contact: Dan Olson, 218-846-8108

Detroit Lakes, Minn. — According to a recent Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) report, some lakes and streams in the Sand Hill River Watershed are polluted with excess nutrients including phosphorus, bacteria, sediment that causes cloudiness in the water, and low dissolved oxygen. In some areas, the pollution is severe enough to be harmful to aquatic insects and fish.

The MPCA has published a set of two reports on the Sand Hill River Watershed, and is seeking comments from the public on both. The first report, known as a TMDL, or Total Maximum Daily Load, establishes the amount of each pollutant that a water body can accept without exceeding water quality standards. The second, known as a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy, or WRAPS, summarizes past efforts to monitor and assess water quality, and identifies future strategies for restoring and protecting water quality in the watershed.

Comments on the report are being accepted through June 29, 2016. The draft WRAPS report and TMDL study are available on the MPCA’s Sand Hill River Watershed webpage or upon request at the MPCA’s office at 714 Lake Avenue in Detroit Lakes.

The Sand Hill River Watershed drains 395,249 acres in northwestern Minnesota. The watershed includes portions of Polk, Norman and Mahnomen counties. Required by Minnesota’s Clean Water Legacy Act, a WRAPS report is a document that summarizes scientific studies of a major watershed. These studies:

  • assess the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of water quality in the watershed;
  • identify impaired water bodies and those in need of protection;
  • identify conditions that stress fish, aquatic insects and other organisms;
  • identify sources of pollution; and
  • propose strategies and actions designed to achieve and maintain water quality standards and goals.

More information about WRAPS reports and TMDL studies can be found on the MPCA's Watershed approach webpage.

Written comments should be mailed to Cary Hernandez, MPCA, 714 Lake Avenue, Suite 220, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, or sent by email to Written comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on June 29, 2016.

If you wish to comment, please indicate clearly whether your comment(s) pertain to the WRAPS report or the TMDL study.

Written comments on the WRAPS report or TMDL study must include: a statement of your interest in the WRAPS report or TMDL study; a statement of the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the WRAPS report or TMDL study that you believe should be changed; and specific reasons supporting your position.

After reviewing comments, the MPCA may revise the draft WRAPS report and TMDL study. The TMDL study is submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for final approval.

For more information, contact Cary Hernandez by email or call him at 218-846-8124. More information is available also from Dan Wilkens, Sand Hill River Watershed District administrator (phone 218-945-3204, or email Those interested can aso learn more on the watershed district's website.

Information on Minnesota’s impaired waters list and TMDL studies is available on the MPCA's Impaired water list webpage or by calling 800-657-3864.