Amendments to Water Quality Standards: Use classification 1

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) plans to amend Minnesota Rules chapter 7050, which establishes beneficial uses and water quality standards (WQS) to protect those uses, and designates where the uses occur in waters of the state. The planned amendments affect the Class 1 beneficial use, which protects waters (both surface and groundwater) used as a source for domestic consumption. All groundwater and some specific surface waters used as a source of drinking water are designated as having the Class 1 beneficial use. In general, these amendments will significantly update and clarify protections for Class 1 waters.

Background

In Minnesota, many surface waters are protected for domestic consumption use and are used by municipalities and others as a source of drinking water. Chapter 7050 also specifies that all “underground” waters (i.e., groundwater) are protected for domestic consumption and are Class 1 waters. Groundwater is widely used to supply water for domestic consumption purposes via wells at private residences, at places of business, and in municipalities.

The MPCA has gathered input and feedback on potential changes to the Class 1 designations and WQS over a number of years, primarily through conversations with the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Natural Resources who have authorities related to the protection of waters used for domestic consumption. Now that this project is entering rulemaking, the MPCA is engaging with other partners and stakeholders regarding the planned revisions and will be issuing a public notice of Request for Comments as a first step to gather feedback from the public at large. 

This rulemaking includes updates and revisions to address gaps and inconsistencies in the application of the chapter 7050 rules to surface and groundwater, and to clarify and better align chapters 7050, 7052, and 7060 with each other and with the goals and provisions of the 1989 Minnesota Groundwater Protection Act.   

Planned amendments include:

  • Revising the numeric and narrative WQS. This includes updating existing values to be more health protective and adding WQS for some emerging pollutants of concern, including per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and potentially pesticides, pharmaceuticals, algal toxins, disinfection by-products, and/or additional industrial chemicals.
  • Clarifying and revising where the WQS apply. These amendments will clarify and likely expand the definitions and list of waters that need to be protected for domestic consumption/drinking water. MPCA is considering how to ensure the rule language clearly conveys that the standards apply to all groundwater, and is also considering whether and how to expand the Class 1 designation to surface waters that negatively impact groundwater, and potentially broadening the areas designated as Class 1 around surface water sources of drinking water.
  • Groundwater Contaminant Management Zones. MPCA is considering the potential addition of these zones as a mechanism to inform decision makers and the public about the presence and status of groundwater contaminant plumes.

Schedule

Date Task(s)

Fall 2021

Publish notice of request for comments and comment period in State Register

Fall 2021 – Winter 2022

Informal public engagement

Summer 2022

Publish second notice of request for comments and comment period in State Register

Fall 2022 – Winter 2023  Peer review of Technical Support Document - issue papers
Fall 2023 Publish notice of hearing on proposed rule amendments in State Register
TBD
  • Public information meeting on proposed rule amendments
  • Public hearing on proposed rule amendments
TBD

Final adoption of rules

Contact

  • Technical questions about Class 1 use classification and planned changes: Cathy O’Dell, 651-757-2621
  • Questions about rule process or schedule: Mary H. Lynn, 651-233-6735