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On Point: News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

October 2020

MPCA announces new protective water and fish values for PFAS


The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently announced several metro water bodies now have new protective water and fish consumption values for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), one of the most studied per - and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFOS is known to accumulate to levels of concern in fish, and could be transferred to humans when consumed, potentially causing adverse health effects. The new values, called site-specific water quality criteria, are one tool the MPCA uses to protect human health and the environment.

The targeted waters are Lake Elmo and connected waterbodies, Bde Maka Ska and Pool 2 of the Mississippi River. More information on PFAS can be found here.

Get involved with Minnesota’s climate initiatives


All are welcome to attend first session of Minnesota Climate Change Forum

From warmer winters to increasing extreme precipitation, our Minnesota climate is rapidly changing and creating new challenges for local communities. To reduce the worst impacts of climate change and increase community resilience, Governor Walz has tasked a group of state leaders – the Climate Change Subcabinet – with identifying and advancing innovative climate policy solutions in our state.

On October 21, 2020, the Climate Change Subcabinet and members of the Environmental Quality Board invite you to join us online for the first session of the Our Minnesota Climate Forum Series. At this special joint meeting, we’ll be providing an overview of the subcabinet’s work to date and share opportunities for you to get involved. All are welcome! Details available here. 

In order to discover the best ideas and build a groundswell of support for climate action, the subcabinet and its working teams need Minnesotans from all parts of the state to join our efforts. Tell us how you would like to get involved or stay informed by taking our online survey.

Explore the rest of the new Our Minnesota Climate website for more information on how climate change is affecting Minnesotans today, the bold initiatives and policies state agencies are leading, and examples of businesses and communities taking climate action, too.

Effects of climate change threaten water quality improvement efforts in Minnesota

Research shows that progress being made to improve the quality of our lakes and rivers is offset by climate change: extreme weather conditions and unprecedented rainfall, including 11 mega-rain events since 2000, are slowing progress on protecting our water. Two new state reports call for swift action to increase resiliency and combat the expected worsening effects of climate change on Minnesota’s waters. 

MPCA has tools, training to help communities meet new MS4 permit requirements for reducing chloride pollution


The MPCA Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) General Permit will be reissued on November 16, 2020, which includes new requirements aimed at reducing chloride pollution. They include:

  • Community outreach and education about the environmental harm posed by de-icing salt use
  • Implement a written snow and ice management policy, and require training, for those performing winter maintenance activities for the permittee
  • Proper de-icing salt storage practices
  • Some permittees must also conduct an annual winter maintenance operations assessment to assist in identifying de-icing salt reduction opportunities on permittee owned/operated surfaces. The MPCA Stormwater Wiki offers guidance on requirements for permittees that have an applicable wasteload allocation (WLA) for chloride and meeting chloride TMDL permit requirements.

One way for permittees to meet some of the new requirements is to utilize the MPCA Smart Salting Certification Trainings which offer practical and technical information on how to implement best management practices, salt storage practices, and provides resources for community education. There are four smart salting training opportunities in Roads, Parking Lots & Sidewalks, Property Management and the MPCA Level 2 Smart Salting Assessment tool (SSAt). Several free trainings are scheduled in October and November.

Don’t miss the brand new MPCA Smart Salting Training for Winter Maintenance Professionals promo video! Hear the value of getting certified from other maintenance pros that are using less salt and still offering a high level of service! It is possible! Send questions about the Smart Salting Certification Trainings to

The MPCA Water permit holders and chloride webpage offers a more detailed summary of all chloride related requirements. For more information about the MS4 General Permit reissuance, visit the MPCA municipal stormwater webpage. If you have additional questions about the new chloride-related permit requirements, contact Cole Landgraf.

Reminder: Annual biosolids report due to MPCA and EPA

Municipal facilities with a design flow rate equal to or greater than 1 million gallons per day, those that serve 10,000 people or more, and other facilities required to report (also known as “Class I sludge management facilities”) need to submit an annual biosolids report to the MPCA by Dec. 31, 2020, and an annual report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by Feb. 19, 2021. Both of these reports are based on the cropping year.

Note: The federal reports are required only for municipal facilities, not industrial facilities.

For questions with the federal report, contact the EPA’s help desk or 1-877-227-8965. Additional information regarding the federal report can be found at: EPA Biosolids Annual Program Report .

All municipal facilities in Minnesota that manage biosolids are required to submit a biosolids annual report by Dec. 31, 2020. Please note that even if you didn’t land apply during the 2020 cropping year, a biosolids annual report still needs to be submitted.

State reports must be submitted electronically

Submit the state biosolids annual report electronically by e-mail. For the cover letter, use the form at this link: Water Quality Submittals Form. Email both the cover letter and report to:

Contact Sherry Bock of the MPCA at 218-316-3882 or Cole Huggins at 218-316-3928 with any questions.

Coming soon: Draft Annual Compliance Summary

Water quality signatories on NPDES/SDS permits can start to look for an email from the MPCA with their draft Annual Compliance Summary Report in November.

This draft report provides permittees the opportunity to review the information in the MPCA database regarding their NPDES/SDS permit for the period of Oct. 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020. They can then send corrections to the MPCA, which if done promptly, should be reflected in the final version of the report that is sent to both the water quality signatory and the responsible official for the facility in early 2021.

In addition, the updates and corrections help make sure MPCA staff have good data as they review facilities for the Operational Awards associated with the MPCA’s Annual Wastewater Operation Conference.

To ensure delivery of the draft Annual Compliance Summary Report and avoid diversion to the junk mail folder, please add to your address book now.

COMPLIANCE TIP: Labs retain wastewater samples

Did you know laboratories retain your wastewater sample after performing analysis and providing you with your sampling results? The duration for how long a laboratory retains a sample may vary so contact your lab for details.

Below are a few scenarios where you may want to contact your laboratory to see if the sample is retained for additional testing. It may keep you in compliance with your permit:

  • Missed sample: If you forgot to request analysis for a specific parameter on your chain-of-custody form or your laboratory forgot to perform analysis for a specific parameter, contact the laboratory to see if they can test to avoid a missed sample.
  • Questionable results: When reviewing your sample results and you find a value that does not seem correct. Consider having the laboratory perform a re-test on the sample. Both results are required to be reported on your DMR.

Lac qui Parle TMDL presentation available


A Webex virtual meeting was held recently for wastewater operators on possible changes in discharge limits associated with the TMDL for the Lac qui Parle lakeshed. A recording of the Webex meeting is available for viewing. The area affected by the TMDL touches upon four different watersheds: Upper Minnesota, Lac qui Parle, Pomme de Terre, and Chippewa.

Wastewater operator certification and training

The MPCA has modified its schedule of training events for Fall 2020, which includes opportunities for operators to take certification exams, limited classroom offerings, and webinars.

Exam application forms, registration information and additional details about upcoming training opportunities can be found on the MPCA Wastewater Operators Training and Certification web page.

Type IV (land application) refresher class

The Type IV Refresher will be delivered online from 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 20 and 21.  

For more information, contact Annaliza Heesch at 651-757-2591 or 

Upcoming Exam Sessions

In person exam sessions will be held at the Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park on the following dates:

  • October 22, 2020 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Exam postmark date is October 7.
  • November 5, 2020 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Exam postmark date is October 21.

Venue information: Marriott Northwest, Brooklyn Park, 7025 Northland Dr N (763-536-8300).

For more information, contact Tracy Finch at 651-757-2103.  

Collection System Basic class and exam session

Collection System Basic training is set to be delivered online via WebEx on November 9 and 10 (8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.); and Nov. 16, 17, 18 (8 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)

The online Collection System Basic class will be accompanied by an in-person exam session at the Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park on November 19 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Exam postmark date is November 4. Registration is capped at 60 participants.

Venue information: Marriott Northwest, Brooklyn Park, 7025 Northland Dr N (763-536-8300).

December WW Treatment Tech class and exam session

Wastewater Treatment Technology class is set to be delivered online via WebEx on the dates of December 8 and 9 (8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.); and December 14, 15, 16 (8 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)

The online Wastewater Treatment Tech class will be accompanied by an in-person exam session at the Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park December 17 from 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Exam postmark date is December 2. Registration is capped at 60 participants.

Venue information: Marriott Northwest, Brooklyn Park, 7025 Northland Dr N (763-536-8300).

2021 training calendar coming soon!

The wastewater training calendar for 2021 is currently in development. Keep an eye out for the official 2021 training calendar on the Wastewater Operators Training and Certification page.

Planning underway for 2021 annual conferences

This is the time of the year when the MPCA Wastewater program typically kicks-off the planning process for annual wastewater conferences. In light of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the MPCA is currently considering ways to offer content and topics in a virtual way for the spring of 2021.

If you are a subject matter expert and you would like to be involved in the planning the Virtual 2021 Annual Conference, please contact Don Berger 651-276-7235.

End-date extended for certification renewal flexibility

The MPCA has extended the date range where certification expirations are being managed with regulatory flexibility. All Wastewater Operator certifications that expire between March 13, 2020, and June 30, 2021, are eligible for renewal, regardless of whether or not individuals have met their continuing education requirements.

Operators whose certifications expire in this timeframe should complete their renewal form and submit it to the MPCA. Individuals that have not fulfilled their continuing education requirement due to the closure of workshops will be issued a provisional certification, which is no different than a full certification, but helps us keep track of this training debt.

Individuals with certification needs who are unable to attend required training due to COVID-19 restrictions or cancellations may follow the MPCA’s regulatory flexibility process, where these requests will be managed on a case-by-case basis. Check here for more information.