2020-2021 triennial standards review

The public comment period for the 2020-2021 triennial standards review (TSR) of Minnesota’s water quality standards ended April 9. (State Register notice, Jan. 19, 2021)

More than 600 comments were submitted for the TSR between Jan. 19 and April 9, 2021. MPCA staff will review these comments over the next several weeks and consider potential changes to the proposed water quality standards work plan for 2021 to 2023. We anticipate posting the final water quality standards work plan for 2021 to 2023 on this webpage by July 1, 2021.

What is the triennial standards review?

The TSR is an opportunity for the public to provide input on the need for changes to Minnesota’s water quality standards — either new standards or revisions to existing standards. The federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that states review their WQS every three years and amend and update them if necessary. (Note: Rulemaking to implement revisions to state WQS is conducted separately from the TSR.)  

All parts of Minnesota Rules chapters 7050 and 7052 are open for the public’s review and comment.

Chapter 7050 includes provisions to protect Minnesota's waters from pollution, including:

  • A classification system of designated beneficial uses for both surface water and groundwater (e.g., drinking water, aquatic life and recreation, etc.), and a listing of specifically classified water bodies.
  • Numeric and narrative WQS that protect these beneficial uses.
  • Antidegradation provisions.
  • Provisions for the protection of wetlands.
  • Methods for the determination of site-specific criteria for toxic pollutants.
  • Other provisions related to the protection of surface water and groundwater from point and nonpoint source pollution.

Chapter 7052 provides standards specific to surface waters in the Lake Superior Basin. Chapter 7052 establishes aquatic life, human health, and wildlife WQS and criteria based on the EPA’s Great Lakes Initiative, anti-degradation standards and procedures for deriving effluent limitations from these standards and criteria.

Minn. R. chs. 7050 and 7052 also include procedures and requirements for issuing variances to state WQS. During the TSR the public may comment upon active variances that have been granted by the MPCA.

In addition, the MPCA requests information and opinion from the public on modified Class 2 and Class 7 water bodies (a.k.a., limited resource value waters or LRVWs) that may be able to attain higher use classes.

Details about the subjects open for comment, including the MPCA’s proposed water quality standards work plan for 2021 to 2023, are available on the sidebar links of this webpage.

Public comments received

Written comments submitted to the MPCA for the 2020-2021 TSR will be posted here once processed and documented. 

Public meeting complete

The MPCA held a virtual public meeting to provide information on the TSR and accept comments on March 9. 2021.

Staff contacts

Staff contacts for questions related to the 2020-2021 triennial standards review (TSR).

Scope of the TSR, technical comments or questions regarding water quality standards:
William Cole - william.cole@state.mn.us, 651-757-2788 or 800-657-3864 toll free

TSR process, the public meeting (March 9), how to submit comments, or other questions about the TSR:
Catherine O'Dell - catherine.odell@state.mn.us, 651-757-2621 or 800-657-3864 toll free

Questions regarding variances:
Elise Doucette - elise.doucette@state.mn.us, 651-757-2316 or 800-657-3864 toll free