Amendments to Water Quality Standards: Use classifications 2 and 7

Small stream running through banks of tall green grass past a tree

The MPCA plans 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:

The public notice requesting comments on the amendments is available on the MPCA Public Notice webpage; it was published in the State Register on September 24, 2018. Comments must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on November 8, 2018. Submit comments in writing as directed in the public notice. Written comments or information should be submitted to the Office of Administrative Hearings Rulemaking e-Comments webpage.

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.

Procedural rulemaking documents

Technical support documents

In this section: