If your wastewater facility discharges into the Minnesota River or one of its tributaries, you may have received the final version of this letter from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in relation to the implementation of the River Eutrophication Standards (RES).

MPCA is working in collaboration with the City of Mankato to develop a technical work plan and stakeholder process to evaluate and address long-standing concerns raised by Mankato and other cities related to whether the existing RES is the right fit for the very unique Minnesota River and how to most accurately allocate and cost-effectively implement phosphorus reductions to benefit the river.

From the City of Mankato’s perspective, this collaborative effort demonstrates MPCA’s interest and commitment to improve stakeholder engagement in Greater Minnesota and to address the substantive technical concerns raised by cities in an open and transparent manner.

In its letter, the MPCA points out that this review process could result in the development of a site-specific standard that is more stringent than the existing standard. We believe that a more stringent site-specific standard for the river does not necessarily mean that wastewater treatment facility permits will be more stringent as a result of this process—especially in light of the major phosphorus reductions already made by cities on the river—that too is possible.

The fundamental goal of the City of Mankato is to improve water quality in the Minnesota River and ensure that any future regulatory requirements imposed on cities will be cost-effective and lead to meaningful improvements. The city believes that the best way to accomplish this goal is to engage and collaborate with MPCA to evaluate technical questions related to the standard and its implementation, and work with all impacted stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan to improve the river. The city believes that this plan should incorporate innovative and cost-effective strategies such as adaptive management, point source optimization, point-to-point and point-to-non-point trading.

As outlined in the MPCA’s letter, if your wastewater facility discharges into the Minnesota River or one of its tributaries, you and your consultants are invited to participate in this RES review and future stakeholder processes. Your facility may be impacted differently than the City of Mankato by the RES and any outcomes from this process. We strongly urge you to participate in the process. Your engagement is critical to represent the interests of your community and to ensure a meaningful review process. 

If your community is not directly impacted by this process, MESERB will continue to monitor the effort and will keep you informed because we believe that this approach could serve as useful model to address water quality issues in other areas of the state going forward.

If you have any questions about how your community can get in engaged the process or would like to learn more, please contact Daniel Marx at dmmarx@flaherty-hood.com. You may also contact Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges (phentges@mankatomn.gov) or Deputy City Manager Alison Zelms (azelms@mankatomn.gov) for more information about the city’s involvement in the process.

To get involved in the initial technical review process directly, please contact MPCA Municipal Liaison Joel Peck at 651-757-2202 or joel.peck@state.mn.us.