The International Red River Board is proposing total phosphorus and (targets to the International Joint Commission (IJC). The IJC oversees the management of the boundary waters between the United States and Canada. These proposals are unprecedented—especially in terms of total nitrogen— as they directly conflict with Minnesota’s adopted and EPA-approved river eutrophication standards.

Due in large part to the unprecedented nature of these proposals, the attorneys at Flaherty & Hood have done some work with a subset of cities that drain to the Red River, and requested a hearing from the IJC  to raise concerns about the basis and impact of these proposals. The proposed targets could have a major impact on a wider set of cities within the Red River Basin, including Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Pelican Rapids that have not been a part of the group because they previously accepted total phosphorus limits based on the earlier Minnesota Pollution Control Agency strategy (the total nitrogen targets could impact them significantly as well). Moreover, the proposed total nitrogran target sets a precedent that could impact cities statewide.

The IJC has granted our request for a hearing and has opened a public comment period. The hearing, which is open to the public, will be held Thursday, Jan. 16 from 7-9 p.m. at The Delta by Marriott in Fargo, N.D. as a part of the Red River Basin Land & Water International Summit Conference. This will be followed by a public comment period ending Feb. 28.

The public notice for this action along with some of the background information is here.

If you have any questions, please contact attorneys Gretel Lee at or Daniel Marx at