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ND Department of Health Leads Nutrient Reduction Strategy Effort

lakeThe North Dakota Department of Health (NDDH) is raising awareness, in an effort to underline the importance for the State’s major dischargers to plan ahead for future nutrient limits.  North Dakota is developing a nutrient reduction strategy to manage and improve the water quality of the State’s water resources.  Nutrient pollution is caused by the overabundance of phosphorus and nitrogen in water which can cause health problems in people, fish and animals, as well as cause ecological damage to lakes, rivers, reservoirs, streams, and wetlands.  Excessive levels of phosphorus and nitrogen can also result in increased costs to treat drinking water that comes from affected water supplies. 

The NDDH and the United States Environmental Agency (USEPA) report that 24 percent of the State’s lakes, reservoirs, and ponds are listed as “impaired,” and the majority have been classified as impaired because of excessive nutrient pollution.  According to the NDDH, the leading sources of nutrients in the State are industrial and municipal point sources; stormwater runoff; failing septic systems; erosion and runoff from cropland; runoff from animal feeding operations; and hydrologic modification, including wetland drainage and stream channelization.

The NDDH is leading the effort to develop and implement the State’s strategy for nutrient reduction by determining the preferred method for establishing limits.  Once the North Dakota limits are established, the nutrient limits would be implemented as the North Dakota Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPDES) permits are renewed every five years. AE2S Wastewater Group Manager Scott Schaefer, PE, says, “There are many unknowns at this time, and nutrient permitting is a complex issue.  AE2S is staying ahead of nutrient limit developments in North Dakota, and we plan to put our clients in a good position to navigate through the regulatory uncertainty. Through the combined experience of our Wastewater and Water Resources Groups, we recognize that impairment is not only a point-source issue, and we have the vision to comprehensively address it within the larger context of the related watershed.” 

The NDDH will convene a diversified group of stakeholders that will be responsible for drafting the core elements of the strategy. Once the elements are developed, a larger stakeholder group will come together in a series of workshops to provide additional input and direction to the strategy.  Developing a strategy that can be implemented within State and local laws, safeguards public health, and reduces economic impacts are all important considerations in this process according to the NDDH website.  For more information from the NDDH about the State’s nutrient reduction strategy, click here. To access additional nutrient pollution information and videos from the USEPA, click here.

North Dakota’s neighbors to the east and west are also focusing on nutrient reduction.  The State of Minnesota is working on in-stream total phosphorus limits.  Click here to access more information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s website. In Montana, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has been working to manage nutrient enrichment of the State’s waters, and one of its larger efforts is the development of numeric water quality standards for both nitrogen and phosphorus.  For more information about the efforts by the Montana DEQ, click here.  





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