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Montana and Minnesota Update Nutrient Standards

algaeThe States of Montana and Minnesota are tightening their nutrient standards in an effort to prevent excess algae growth or eutrophication that can harm aquatic species.

The Montana Board of Environmental Review recently adopted new water quality standards for nutrients to establish new, stringent limits on the quantity of nitrogen and phosphorus that enter the State's waterways through point sources such as wastewater treatment plants and farming practices. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) still needs to give final approval to the standards. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has also established a variance process specific to nutrient standards that allows dischargers to come into compliance incrementally over the next two decades or less, until the final standards are met.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) also recently adopted amendments to the State's water quality standards to address eutrophication of rivers and streams, as well as the Mississippi River navigation pools and Lake Pepin. The eutrophication standards established numeric levels for phosphorus and also for “response variables” of chlorophyll-a, dissolved oxygen flux, and five-day biochemical oxygen demand. A body of water is considered polluted if the phosphorus value and any one of the response variables are exceeded. The MPCA must also receive final approval for the standards from USEPA before moving forward.

"Nutrients are a complex and difficult issue. Finalizing these numeric nutrient criteria is a major milestone for both Montana and Minnesota. We now have a greater degree of regulatory certainty as implementation of nutrient reduction projects move forward." says Scott Schaefer, PE, AE2S Wastewater Practice Leader.

If you would like to discuss how your facility may be impacted by the updated nutrient standards, contact Scott Schaefer at Scott.Schaefer@ae2s.com or 763-463-5036. Or, click on the following links to access additional nutrient standards information from the MPCA and Montana DEQ.



 

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please contact Heather Syverson at 701-364-9111 or Heather.Syverson@ae2s.com.
 
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