The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has published a request for comments on planned amendments to water rules (Minn. R. chapters 7050 and 7053) governing water quality standards for Class 3 industrial consumption and Class 4 agricultural and wildlife usage. These are the rules that govern the limits for the salty water quality parameters, such as specific conductance, bicarbonates, hardness and total dissolved solids. This rulemaking does not involve the Class 4A wild rice sulfate standard.

In summary, the changes being considered by MPCA would:

  • Replace numeric standards for existing subclasses 3A–3D with a single narrative standard, condensing the subclasses into a single industrial consumption use class
  • Replace numeric Class 4A standards for bicarbonate, boron, pH, specific conductance, total dissolved salts and sodium with a narrative standard and include a process to translate the narrative standard into a numeric effluent limit or limits for permitted dischargers
  • Update numeric standards for Class 4B to reflect current science
  • Remove the Class 4C designated use (protection of wetlands for agriculture and wildlife) and designate wetlands as Classes 4A and 4B instead of 4C
  • Move wetland standards for chloride and settleable solids from Classes 3D and 4C to Class 2D, and move the narrative Class 4C standard to 7050.0186, to more appropriately reflect the uses being protected
  • Maintain applicability of the Classes 3, 4A, and 4B uses on all waters of the state.

Based on MPCA’s response to a MESERB Data Practices Act, we determined that the MESERB members that stand to be most impacted by this rulemaking are listed below. The listed cities are those that the MPCA has determined have reasonable potential to cause or contribute to a violation of the Class 3 and/or 4 water quality standards and thus could receive permit limits under the current rules.

Please note the deadline to submit comments is Monday, April 22, 2019 by 4:30 p.m.

Members potentially impacted:

  • Albany
  • Albert Lea
  • Hutchinson
  • Lake Crystal
  • Lakefield
  • Luverne
  • Marshall
  • Melrose
  • New Prague
  • Olivia
  • Pelican Rapids
  • Redwood Falls
  • Renville
  • Rochester
  • Roseau
  • Thief River Falls
  • Warroad
  • Waseca
  • Willmar
  • Windom
  • Worthington

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Gretel Lee at