On Point: Announcement of June 30 meeting on regulatory certainty

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On Point - News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

June 2016

New law aims to help cities plan better while reducing pollutants in wastewater

Wastewater treatment

A new Minnesota law aims to provide certainty to communities and industries in their investments to meet water quality standards while saving money on long-term wastewater.

“Cities have expressed a lot of frustration over spending money on new facilities to comply with new standards, and then having to do more – at a higher cost – a few years down the road when more standards become law. We worked with many stakeholders and legislators to develop what’s called regulatory certainty to provide some assurance for their planning and investments. We see this as a win-win for our waters and for our cities,” said Rebecca Flood, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

Regulatory certainty allows the MPCA to hold the line on nutrient limits in discharge permits for up 20 years in exchange for communities and industries agreeing to lower nutrients even more than current standards. Minnesota has water quality standards for phosphorus and is working on standards for nitrogen. Both these nutrients can cause algal blooms harmful to aquatic life and recreation. Nitrogen can also be toxic to fish and other aquatic life, as well as harmful to humans in drinking water.

This approach takes the uncertainty out of planning for facilities needing to upgrade or build systems to comply with phosphorus limits. By incorporating nitrogen removal too, they can avoid higher costs to comply with new standards in 5-10 years.

Regulatory certainty also allows Minnesota to start reducing nitrogen discharged by wastewater treatment facilities ahead of adopting a standard. Minnesota finalized a statewide Nutrient Reduction Strategy in 2014 that calls for a 45% reduction in nutrients in the Mississippi River Basin by 2040 to protect downstream waters all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  For phosphorus, that’s a reduction from 4,600 tons per year to 2,500 tons, and for nitrogen, 91,000 tons a year to 50,000 tons. This strategy includes an interim reduction goal for the Mississippi River of 20% by 2025.

Instead of waiting for the nitrogen standard to be developed and mandated, the regulatory certainty approach helps Minnesota take action now to protect lakes and rivers here as well as downstream.

For more information on regulatory certainty, attend the meeting below or contact Joel Peck, MPCA municipal liasion, as listed below.

MPCA invites you to meeting on implementing regulatory certainty

To explain how regulatory certainty will be implemented, the MPCA will hold a meeting for engineers, consultants and other technical staff:

  • Thursday, June 30, from 2-4 p.m.
  • MPCA office, 520 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN
  • Also by WebEx and phone

If attending in person, the meeting will be held in Room 100 on the first floor of the MPCA office in St. Paul. You will need to check in at the front desk with a photo ID. For directions and parking, visit the MPCA website at www.pca.state.mn.us/about-mpca/st-paul-office. Seating is limited so be sure to RSVP to contact information below.

For WebEx

Join by phone:

  • Call-in toll-free number: 1-888-742-5095  
  • Conference Code: 515-967-4474

RSVP and questions, contact Joel Peck, municipal liaison for the MPCA, at 651-757-2202 or joel.peck@state.mn.us. Please RSVP by Monday, June 27.