The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is currently proposing amendments to rules governing water quality standards: Class 2 and Class 7 use designations, Minnesota Rules chapter 7050.
The proposed rules were placed on public notice from September 23, 2019, through November 7, 2019. The proposed rule amendments and related documents are provided under the heading Procedural rulemaking documents.
Public information meeting
A public information meeting on proposed rule amendments was held Oct. 29, 2019, at the MPCA's St. Paul office.
The MPCA held a public hearing on the proposed rule amendments on December 11, 2019. The public hearing was held at the MPCA in St. Paul and via Webex at MPCA's offices in Duluth, Detroit Lakes, Marshall, and Rochester. Administrative Law Judge Ann C. O’Reilly conducted the hearing. Following the hearing, a post-hearing comment and rebuttal comment period were held, during which additional written comments on the proposed amendments were submitted to the Office of Administrative Hearings. With the conclusion of the rebuttal comment period on January 8, 2020, the hearing record closed. Administrative Law Judge O’Reilly issued her report on February 1, 2020. The judge’s report is available in the procedural rulemaking documents section below. The MPCA will now proceed with adopting the rule amendments.
Proposed rule amendments
The MPCA proposes to amend Minnesota Rules chapter 7050, which establishes designated uses for rivers, streams, and lakes. The proposed amendments affect Class 2 (Aquatic Life) and Class 7 (Limited Resource Value Waters) designations. The MPCA routinely reviews use designations to ensure that assigned beneficial uses are protective and attainable as defined by the Clean Water Act and Minnesota Rule. As the result of routine monitoring and stakeholder requests, the MPCA has identified waters where the currently designated beneficial use does not accurately reflect an attainable use.
Learn more about the agency's proposed amendment:
Procedural rulemaking documents
February 4, 2020
Jan. 9, 2020
MPCA Rebuttal Response submitted to the OAH
- Rebuttal Response Cover Letter (wq-rule4-21v)
- Detailed Rebuttal Responses to Comments Received (wq-rule4-21w)
No non-MPCA rebuttal responses were submitted to the OAH.
Jan. 2, 2020
MPCA Post Hearing Comments submitted to the OAH
- MPCA Post Hearing Response Cover Letter (wq-rule4-21o)
- Response to Comments Cover Memo (wq-rule4-21p)
- Attachment 1 – Spreadsheet of Comments (wq-rule4-21q)
- Attachment 2 – MPCA Detailed Response to Comments (wq-rule4-21r)
- Attachments 3-14 (wq-rule4-21s)
Non-MPCA Post Hearing Comments submitted to the OAH
Dec. 11, 2019
- Transcript of December 11, 2019, Public Hearing (wq-rule4-21n)
- MPCA List of Public Hearing Exhibits (wq-rule4-21m1)
- Hearing Exhibit A (wq-rule4-21m2)
- Hearing Exhibit B (wq-rule4-21m3)
- Hearing Exhibit C (wq-rule4-21m4)
- Hearing Exhibit D (wq-rule4-21m5)
- Hearing Exhibit E (wq-rule4-21m6)
- Hearing Exhibit F (wq-rule4-21m7)
- Hearing Exhibit G (wq-rule4-21m8)
- Hearing Exhibit H (wq-rule4-21m9)
- Hearing Exhibits I-1 to I-12 (wq-rule4-21m10)
- Hearing Exhibit J (wq-rule4-21m11)
- Hearing Exhibits K-1 to K-7 (wq-rule4-21m12)
- Hearing Exhibits L-1 to L-22 (wq-rule4-21m13) Comments and materials submitted during the hearing
- Notice of Hearing to Those Who Requested a Hearing (wq-rule4-21h)
- Comments Received during Dual Notice Comment Period (wq-rule4-21j)
- Hearing Requests Received during Dual Notice Comment Period (wq-rule4-21k)
- Dual Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules - Class 2 and Class 7 Use Designations (wq-rule4-21d)
- Proposed Amendments to Class 2 and Class 7 Use Designation Rules (wq-rule4-21e)
- Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) for Proposed Rules (wq-rule4-21f)
- SONAR Exhibits 1–20 (wq-rule4-21g1)
- SONAR Exhibits 21–23 (wq-rule4-21g2)
- SONAR Exhibits 24–32 (wq-rule4-21g3)
- SONAR Exhibits - Appendices 32a–32c, Maps of designated use changes (wq-rule4-21g4)
- SONAR Exhibits - Appendices 32d–32e, Maps of designated use changes (wq-rule4-21g5)
- SONAR Exhibits - Appendices 32f–32h, Maps of designated use changes (wq-rule4-21g6)
- SONAR Exhibits 33–50 (wq-rule4-21g7)
- SONAR Exhibits 51–56 (wq-rule4-21g8)
- Request for comments on amendments – Use Classifications 2 and 7 - September 24, 2018 (wq-rule4-21b)
- Comments received in response to request for comments - Use Classifications 2 and 7 (wq-rule4-21c)
Why update designated uses?
The use designations in this rulemaking were initiated based on routine monitoring, rulemaking by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and requests by the public. The most important reason to make these changes is that the designated use for each waterbody needs to be correct and appropriate because it affects many water quality protection and restoration efforts (e.g., assessment, stressor identification, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting, total maximum daily loads). Assigning the correct beneficial uses to Minnesota’s waters also accurately documents the types and condition of Minnesota’s aquatic resources. And as part of the cold water reviews, changes to Minn. R. 7050.0420 are needed to modernize the MPCA’s process for designating cold and warm/cool water habitats.
The draft use designations enhance the protection and maintenance of the biological, chemical, and physical integrity of state water resources by:
- Establishing protective and attainable designated uses. The proposal assigns beneficial uses that will result in appropriate management actions to maintain or improve aquatic life condition.
- Revising rule language to better align rules with MPCA and CWA goals. The revision specifies requirements for designating cold water habitats.
- Assigning beneficial uses to protect high-quality water resources. Draft beneficial uses identify high quality water resources and establish higher biological goals to maintain those conditions.
- Assigning beneficial uses to appropriately classify modified water resources. These include channelized streams and ditches and will result in achievable goals that are consistent with maintaining existing uses.
- Documenting existing beneficial uses. The revision records the baseline goal for these waters to ensure their restoration or protection.
Technical support documents
- Amendments to Aquatic Life (Class 2) Use Designations (wq-rule4-21a)
- Appendix A: Maps of designated use changes - Lake Superior Basin (wq-rule4-21a1)
- Appendix B: Maps of designated use changes - Lake of the Woods Basins (wq-rule4-21a2)
- Appendix C: Maps of designated use changes - Red River of the North Basin (wq-rule4-21a3)
- Appendix D: Maps of designated use changes - Upper Mississippi River Basin (wq-rule4-21a4)
- Appendix E: Maps of designated use changes - Minnesota River (part) (wq-rule4-21a5)
- Appendix F: Maps of designated use changes - Minnesota River (part) and Saint Croix River Basins (wq-rule4-21a6)
- Appendix G: Maps of designated use changes - Lower Mississippi River Basin (wq-rule4-21a7)
- Appendix H: Maps of designated use changes - Cedar-Des Moines Rivers Basin (wq-rule4-21a8)
- Technical Guidance for Reviewing and Designating Aquatic Life Uses in Minnesota Streams and Rivers (wq-s6-34)
- Identification of Predictive Habitat Attributes for Minnesota Streams to Support Tiered Aquatic Life Uses (wq-s6-39)
- Development of Biological Criteria for Tiered Aquatic Life Uses
- Macroinvertebrate data collection protocols for lotic waters in Minnesota (2017) (wq-bsm3-12a)
- Fish Data Collection Protocols for Lotic Waters in Minnesota (2017) (wq-bsm3-12b)
Questions about draft aquatic life designated uses:
Questions about rulemaking:
Mary H. Lynn