Antidegradation policy is one of three primary components of Minnesota's state water quality standards — the other two being designated beneficial uses (which, in Minnesota, are identified through seven use classifications), and criteria necessary to meet those uses. Federal antidegradation regulations require states to adopt antidegradation policy and identify implementation procedures that maintain and protect existing uses, prevent unnecessary degradation of existing high water quality and maintain and protect the quality of waters identified for their outstanding value. Antidegradation policy is generally implemented through MPCA-issued control documents such as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.
The MPCA has completed rulemaking to replace the existing nondegradation rules found in Minn. R. ch. 7050 with new antidegradation rules. The new rules became effective on November 21, 2016, and permit applications received after this date need to comply: Antidegradation Rules as Adopted (wq-rule3-61f)
During the process of amending the rules, the MPCA conducted extensive outreach and stakeholder work. Information about the rulemaking process and the adopted rules is provided below.
Request for comments
- State Register Notice, January 29, 2007
- State Register Notice, May 29, 2007
- State Register Notice, February 25, 2013
Notice of comment period
Information about proposed amendments is provided in the documents below.
- Antidegradation Rules as proposed
- Statement of Need and Reasonableness-Antidegradation Amendments
- Attachments to Antidegradation SONAR
- Summary of changes
Exhibits cited in the Statement of Need and Reasonableness
- SONAR Exhibits 1-15
- SONAR Exhibits 16-40
- SONAR Exhibits 41-60
- SONAR Exhibits 61-80
- SONAR Exhibits 81-100
- SONAR Exhibits 101-120
- SONAR Exhibits 121-130
- SONAR Exhibits 131-140
- SONAR Exhibits 141-151
- SONAR Exhibits 152
- SONAR Exhibits 153-154
Comments on proposed rules
The following comments have been received by the close of the post-hearing comment period. Rebuttals will be added as they are received.
- Comments received on Nondegradation Rulemaking
- Transcript of March 31, 2016 Antidegradation Hearing
- MPCA Response to Comments (wq-rule3-60i)
- Attachment 1 to MPCA Response to Comments (wq-rule3-60j)
- Attachment 2 to MPCA Response to Comments (wq-rule3-60k)
- Attachments 3-16 to MPCA Response to Comments (wq-rule3-61d)
- MPCA Rebuttal Response (wq-rule3-60m)
- Attachments to MPCA Rebuttal Response (wq-rule3-60l)
Administrative Law Judge reports
Notice of Adoption
The MPCA has adopted, with certain revisions prompted by comments and approved by the Office of Administrative Hearings, the antidegradation rules that were published in the State Register on February 1, 2016. The Notice of Adoption is published in the November 14, 2016 State Register.
Request for Comments
Completed (published January 29, 2007, May 29, 2007, February 25, 2013)
Public Comment Period/Notice Of Hearing
Published Notice on February 1, 2016. Hearings held on March 31, 2016.
Post-Comment Period/Administrative Law Judge Review
Adoption of Rules
Adopted October 12, 2016. Notice of Adoption published November 14, 2016. Effective November 21, 2016.
U.S. EPA Review and Approval
June 13, 2017
The following chronicles the MPCA's antidegradation rulemaking.
2014 Pre-proposal Draft Rules
- Pre-Proposal draft rule – Antidegradation Rules
- Comparison of pre-proposal draft rules and the federal antidegradation regulations
2012 Pre-Proposal Draft Rules and Stakeholder Meeting
The following materials relate to a general stakeholder meeting held on September 10, 2012.
- Proposed Permanent Rules Relating to Antidegradation of State Waters
- Guide to the Proposed Permanent Rules Relating to Antidegradation of State Waters
- Antidegradation Rule Stakeholder Meeting — September 10, 2012
2011 Draft rule
2010 Proposed Changes to Antidegradation Provisions
The following documents provide MPCA’s early thinking on changes to Minnesota’s rule and the process for implementing antidegradation in Minnesota. The first document compares current approaches to proposed approaches for various topics. The second describes implementation procedures in general for all activities, while the third is specific to regulated Phase II MS4 discharges.
- Proposed Antidegradation Rule and Implementation Changes
- Proposed General Antidegradation Tier 2 Implementation Procedures
- Proposed Antidegradation Implementation Procedures for NPDES MS4s
2008-2009 stakeholder meetings
The MPCA held a series of five general stakeholder meetings as a means of obtaining input to the rule revision. PowerPoint presentations from each series of past meetings are available below.
- Opening Stakeholder Meeting Presentation (June 2008)
- Second Stakeholder Meeting Presentation) (July-August 2008)
- Third Stakeholder Meeting Presentation (September 2008)
- Fourth Stakeholder Meeting Presentation (January 2009)
- Fifth Stakeholder Meeting Presentation (June 2009)
A meeting specifically focused on NPDES-permitted stormwater activities was held at the MPCA offices in St. Paul on March 10, 2009. Links to the materials covered in the meeting, as well as notes of the meeting dialog are shown below:
- Options to Address Antidegradation Issues Related to NPDES-Permitted Stormwater Activities
- Suggested Decision Process for Coverage of Stormwater Activities Discharging to High Quality Waters Under a General Permit
- Meeting Notes
Stakeholder discussions in the 2008 -2009 stakeholder meetings were framed, in part, through "issue papers." Below are links to the list of topics addressed, the documents themselves, and comments received from stakeholders regarding individual topics.
- Nondegradation Rulemaking Topics and Issues
- Revised Nondegradation Rulemaking Topics and Issues, December 15, 2008
- Issue Paper 1. Introduction to nondegradation and the opportunity to improve how surface waters are protected.
- Issue Paper 2. To which activities does nondegradation apply?
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 2
- Issue Paper 3. What is tier 2 protection of high quality waters?
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 3
- Issue Paper 4. What triggers a nondegradation review of potential impacts to high-quality water?
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 4
- Issue Paper 5. Nondegradation Review: alternatives analysis, economic and social justification, intergovernmental coordination and public participation.
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 5
- Issue Paper 6. What are the best ways to describe impacts on receiving waters?
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 6
- Issue Paper 7. How are baseline conditions used in the assessment of impacts on receiving waters?
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 7
- Issue Paper 8. How should nondegradation be applied to NPDES-permitted stormwater activities?
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 8
- Additional Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 8
- Issue Paper 9. How should cumulative impacts be addressed?
- Issue Paper 10. How should Outstanding Resource Value Waters be protected?
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 9
- Compiled Stakeholder Comments. Issue Paper 10
The 2008 – 2009 stakeholder meetings generate many questions and comments. The document below is MPCA’s response to those questions and comments.
- Responses to Questions Raised in the Written Comments Received from Stakeholders Attending the Nondegradation Rulemaking Stakeholder Meetings
2007 Stormwater Nondegradation Analysis Project
In 2007 MPCA contracted with a consulting firm to do a benchmarking study on stormwater and related nondegradation issues in other states. The purpose of the study (Stormwater Nondegradation Analysis Project, SNAP) was twofold. First, to provide an assessment of how municipal stormwater management could be implemented to meet nondegradation requirements. This assessment included a survey of 30 Minnesota municipalities selected to evaluate changes in runoff quantity and quality from 1988 to the present and projected changes from the present to the year 2020. Where significant increases in stormwater runoff have occurred or are projected to occur, control measure options to keep pollutant loading of receiving waters at the 1988 levels are discussed. The second purpose of the contract was to solicit information from other states and Regional EPA Offices regarding nondegradation policy and implementation procedures.
Stormwater Nondegradation Analysis Project Technical Memos
- Final Version of Technical Memorandum #1 — Analytical Approaches Used by MS4s
- Final Version of Technical Memorandum #2 — Stormwater Nondegradation Analysis Project
- Final Version of Technical Memorandum #3 — Recommendations for Rulemaking
2007 Request for Comments
Contact for questions about antidegradation or technical aspects of the proposal:
520 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4194