Nondegradation Rulemaking

A clear Minnesota lakeAntidegradation 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: PDF icon 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

Notice of comment period

Information about proposed amendments is provided in the documents below.

Exhibits cited in the Statement of Need and Reasonableness

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.

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

2012 Pre-Proposal Draft Rules and Stakeholder Meeting

The following materials relate to a general stakeholder meeting held on 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.

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.

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:

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.

The 2008 – 2009 stakeholder meetings generate many questions and comments. The document below is MPCA’s response to those questions and comments.

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

2007 Request for Comments

Comments received

Staff contacts

Contact for questions about antidegradation or technical aspects of the proposal:

Bill Cole
520 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4194