Posts Tagged ‘phosphorus’

MPCA to test Minnesota River’s health

August 2, 2012

On Friday – Aug. 3 – the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will take advantage of unusually low water in the Minnesota River to begin a week’s worth of testing of the effectiveness of improvements in sewage treatment plants along the river.

Read an MPCA news release about the effort to measure dissolved oxygen in the river water.

A 2004 anti-pollution plan set new standards requiring sewage treatment plants to cut phosphorus discharges by 40 percent. Wastewater treatment plants are already meeting their 2015 reduced phosphorus discharge goals, according to MPCA researchers.

The river monitoring to begin Friday will test whether the phosphorus reductions are achieving the desired effect of keeping the river’s oxygen levels healthy for fish and other organisms.

Fertilizers pollute ground, surface waters

April 16, 2012

The Freshwater Society blog publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

Report analyzes pollution from fertilizers
The Environmental Working Group has issued a 54-page report on the pollution of ground and surface waters caused by nitrogen and phosphorus, two major farm fertilizers.

The report, “Troubled Waters: Farm Pollution Threatens Drinking Water,” looked at the problem in four Midwest corn belt states – Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Both nitrogen and phosphorus contribute to the oxygen-deprived “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen also has a health risk for humans, especially for infants, when it leaches into drinking water drawn from shallow wells. Phosphorus in lakes feeds algae blooms that can be a deterrent to recreation and sometimes a health threat.

The report quotes a U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate that removing nitrate from drinking water costs nearly $5 billion a year. According to the report, nitrate levels in Minnesota streams are eight times natural background levels, and phosphorus levels are five times background levels.

The also report quotes data from a Minnesota Department of Agriculture voluntary testing program that evaluated water from 9,700 wells between 1995 and 1998. In those tests, 9 percent of drilled wells had nitrate in excess of the human health standard, 16 percent of sandpoint wells had nitrate that exceeded the health standard, and 40 percent of the relatively few dug wells that were tested had nitrates in excess of the standard. A Minnesota Health Department survey of randomly selected private wells in the 1990s found about 6 percent had nitrate levels that exceeded the health standard.

Read the Environmental Working Group report. Read a Star Tribune article about the report. Read a Des Moines Register article on it. Read an agriculture.com article on it.  View the  Minnesota Department of Agriculture web page reporting data on well contamination and offering advice on water testing for owners of private wells.

View video of Craig A. Cox, one of the authors of the Environmental Working Group report, delivering a February 2011 lecture, sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences. Cox’s lecture was titled “Taking the Pollution out of Agricultural Production.”

Research: Migrating loons visit L. Michigan
At least six of the 29 loons that have had radio and satellite telemetry devices placed in them by researchers have returned to their breeding lakes in Minnesota as of April 11, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

One of the loons, known as “M2,” returned to Big Mantrap Lake in northern Minnesota March 29.

“This is a very exciting time in science exploration,” said Carrol Henderson, supervisor of the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program. “We have been able to learn more about our fabulous state bird than we have ever known before.”

During the last two years, the loons were equipped with satellite transmitters in an effort to study their migratory movements and foraging patterns while migrating.

Most of the loons that are part of this research project left Minnesota in October and spent about a month on Lake Michigan before departing for the Gulf of Mexico in early December.
–DNR News Release

Rules tightened on antibiotics for livestock 
Farmers and ranchers will for the first time be required to get a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals, federal food regulators announced. Officials hope the move will slow the indiscriminate use of the drugs, which has made them increasingly ineffective in humans.

The Food and Drug Administration has been taking small steps to try to curb the use of antibiotics on farms, but federal officials said that requiring prescriptions would lead to meaningful reductions in the agricultural use of antibiotics, which are given to promote animal growth. The drug resistance that has developed from that practice has been a growing problem for years and has rendered a number of antibiotics used in humans less and less effective, with deadly consequences.

Initially, the F.D.A. is asking drug makers to voluntarily change their labels to require a prescription; federal officials said that drug makers had largely agreed to the change.
–The New York Times

GAO: U.S. could save $1 billion on crop insurance 
The federal government could save about $1 billion a year by reducing the subsidies it pays to large farmers to cover much of the cost of their crop insurance, according to a report by Congressional auditors.

The report raised the prospect of the government’s capping the amount that farmers receive at $40,000 a year, much as the government caps payments in other farm programs. Any move to limit the subsidy, however, is likely to be opposed by rural lawmakers, who say the program provides a safety net for agriculture.

The report, by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, was requested by Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, as part of his efforts to cut government spending. Under the federal crop insurance program, farmers can buy insurance policies that cover poor yields, declines in prices or both. The insurance is obtained through private companies, but the federal government pays about 62 percent of the premiums, plus administrative expenses.
–The New York Times

Maps spur interest in protecting Le Sueur River 
A “map party” may not sound like a rousing way to kick off the formation of a citizen-led movement to improve the Le Sueur River.

But as people filed into the Pemberton Community Center for an informal open house, they eagerly pored over a variety of maps of the area — historic maps from the early 1900s to high-tech maps showing crisp aerial views and maps created with cutting-edge imaging showing erosion of bluffs over time.

The event was the first step in trying to get residents in the watershed to focus on a river that is one of the biggest contributors of sediment into the Minnesota River — sediment that is rapidly filling in Lake Pepin on the Mississippi and leading to growing calls for action.

Patrick Moore, the leader of Clean Up the River Environment or CURE, said bringing together the seemingly endless number of maps created by state and federal agencies grew out of a comment by Blue Earth County’s land use planner, Julie Conrad.
–The Mankato Free Press

Zebra mussel shells clog Lake Winnebago 
For some area residents on the lakeshore, it’s like something out of a bad horror movie. No matter what they try, the bogeyman keeps regenerating itself.

In this case, the monster is a barrier of zebra mussel shells that pile up and stretch across an inlet to Lake Winnebago on the lakeshore property of the Jesuit Retreat House in the Town of Black Wolf.

Chuck Linde, facilities manager for the retreat house, estimates there is about 12 dump trucks’ worth of mussels in the lake inlet, next to an island just off the shore. “It’s created a landmass,” Linde said. “It bridges the gap between the island and our property.” –The Oshkosh Northwestern

Wisconsin adopts sweeping phosphorus rules

June 28, 2010

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

Wisconsin DNR adopts phosphorus rules
The Natural Resources Board approved sweeping and costly new regulations to limit phosphorus in state waterways that could top $1 billion.

The goal is cleaner water, fewer algae blooms and a better habitat for fish and other aquatic life. Phosphorus pollution from runoff is one of the contributing factors to the foul-smelling algae on Lake Michigan’s beaches. 

The measure was championed by the DNR and environmentalists, but the state hasn’t identified a way to finance a cost-sharing program, and business groups said the burden will fall unfairly on them. 

The regulations take a two-pronged approach by setting water quality standards for phosphorus and by putting new limits on municipal wastewater treatment plants and factories that have their own treatment systems. 

In turn, the water quality standards drive a complex series of regulations aimed at controlling phosphorus and other nutrients washed from farm fields, construction sites and urban streets.
–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Minnesota may seek pollution damages from 3M
3M Company may be liable for damage to natural resources because of chemicals that contaminated Mississippi River fish and tainted groundwater beneath much of the east metro area. State officials have met with 3M several times during the past few weeks, and said they hope to resolve the problems through negotiations rather than litigation. 

3M phased out the compounds in 2002 after making them for nearly half a century at its Cottage Grove plant. They were used in numerous products including Scotchgard, non-stick cookware and firefighting foam. The company dumped wastes in area landfills and at the plant decades ago, before those practices were illegal. The chemicals spread to contaminate nearby ground and river water. 

“For the past three years we’ve been focused on cleanup, on getting that moving forward,” said Kathy Sather, director of remediation for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “The time is right now for us to look at the natural resource damage that’s always part of the remediation that we do.”

Sather would not speculate on how much the damages might be.
–The Star Tribune

Asian carp caught close to Lake Michigan
A commercial fisherman patrolling the calm waters of Lake Calumet netted a 19-pound Asian carp, the first physical discovery of the feared invasive species in the Chicago waterway system north of the electric barriers.

Within minutes of the official announcement, lawmakers from Michigan and environmental advocacy groups were once more chastising Illinois’ response to the Asian carp crisis and threatening a new round of legal action aimed at permanently closing Chicago-area shipping locks.

“This was so tragically predictable,” said U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., who is among the architects of the Carp Act, a bill in Congress that would close the shipping locks. “For years, myself and so many others have raised concerns over this issue and were criticized for it or told we were overreacting. Today, our worst fears have been confirmed.”
–The Chicago Tribune 

Stunning levels of toxins found in whales
Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth’s oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood. 

A report noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said.

 “These contaminants, I think, are threatening the human food supply. They certainly are threatening the whales and the other animals that live in the ocean,” said biologist Roger Payne, founder and president of Ocean Alliance, the research and conservation group that produced the report.
–The Associated Press

Minerals exploration near BWCA raises concerns
A new partnership between an Ely, Minn., company and a mining giant in Chile has spurred progress on copper and nickel exploration in northern Minnesota. 

But because some of the new exploration is in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, it’s raising concerns among residents and other observers. 

Ely-based Duluth Metals, with financial backing from the Chilean company Antofogasta, has drilled some 170 test holes in a 1,500-acre tract near the South Kawishiwi River and thinks the results are promising.

Duluth Metals is among six companies exploring for minerals near the boundary waters. The companies are drilling deep holes, probing huge deposits of valuable copper, nickel, gold, platinum, and palladium.
–Minnesota Public Radio 

Some question risk of BP drilling in Alaska
The future of BP’s offshore oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico has been thrown into doubt by the recent drilling disaster and court wrangling over a moratorium. 

But about three miles off the coast of Alaska, BP is moving ahead with a controversial and potentially record-setting project to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters. 

All other new projects in the Arctic have been halted by the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling, including more traditional projects like Shell Oil’s plans to drill three wells in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort. 

But BP’s project, called Liberty, has been exempted as regulators have granted it status as an “onshore” project even though it is about three miles off the coast in the Beaufort Sea. The reason: it sits on an artificial island — a 31-acre pile of gravel in about 22 feet of water — built by BP.
–The New York Times

 EPA seeks tax renewal for Superfund clean-ups
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to Congress in support of reinstating the lapsed Superfund “polluter pays” taxes. Superfund is the federal government’s program that investigates and cleans up the nation’s most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. 

 If reinstated, the Superfund provision would provide a stable, dedicated source of revenue for the program and increase the pace of Superfund cleanup. It would also ensure that parties who benefit from the manufacture or sale of substances that commonly cause environmental problems at hazardous waste sites, and not taxpayers, help bear the cost of cleanup when responsible parties cannot be identified.

The Superfund taxes expired on Dec. 31, 1995. Since the expiration of the taxes, Superfund program funding has been largely financed from General Revenue transfers to the Superfund Trust Fund, thus burdening the taxpayer with the costs of cleaning up abandoned hazardous waste sites. The administration is proposing to reinstate the taxes as they were last in effect on crude oil, imported petroleum products, hazardous chemicals, and imported substances that use hazardous chemicals as a feedstock, and on corporate modified alternative minimum taxable income.
More information on the Superfund program: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/
–EPA News Release 

Early spring brings bumper crop of watermilfoil
The weeds on Lake Calhoun have grown so thick this year that it almost looks as if the Minneapolis lake has islands.

 Much of it is Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive species that has taken over in most lakes in the Twin Cities and elsewhere throughout the state. The milfoil has become a common sight, but this year’s warm spring means it has hit its peak earlier than usual. 

The weeds tickle swimmers’ legs and feet and make it harder for boats — especially sailboats — to navigate the lake without getting stuck. 

“It’s just gotten progressively worse, and this is the worst year we’ve had,” said Mike Elson, who leads the Calhoun Yacht Club and has been sailing on Lake Calhoun since 1979.
–Minnesota Public Radio 

California suit challenges groundwater pumping
Commercial fisherman have filed a lawsuit accusing California officials of not leaving enough water in a Northern California river for coho salmon. 

The lawsuit says the State Water Resources Control Board and Siskiyou County allowed groundwater well permits that have depleted the Scott River. 

The plaintiffs say the endangered coho salmon are now on the verge of extinction in the river. 

A spokesman at the State Resources Water Control Board, William L. Rukeyser, says the lawsuit appears to raise many theories about pumping that are not established in California law.
–The Associated Press

 A solar economy – We’re already living in one
We have a solar-based economy, whether or not we realize it. Ninety-four percent of the world’s energy comes from the sun, even energy that doesn’t at first glance seem solar. Coal, oil and natural gas are mostly the products of ancient plants that grew with the sun’s help. The sun drives hydroelectric power by evaporating low-lying water, then dumping it at higher altitudes. Windmills turn because the sun warms the planet’s air unevenly. 

Fortunately, there’s plenty of sun to go around. Our local star is continuously transmitting 180 quadrillion watts of energy to the Earth, 14,000 times our requirements for generating power. So the question isn’t where to get our energy, but how to capture it. 

Solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, are our most identifiable effort to convert the sun’s energy into electricity. They depend on a phenomenon known as the photovoltaic effect, discovered in 1839 by a French teenager. Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, then 19, placed two metal plates in a salt solution and generated an electric current by simply placing his rig in the sun.
–The Washington Post 

Ban on genetically modified alfalfa overturned
In its first-ever ruling on genetically modified crops, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ban on the planting of alfalfa seeds engineered to resist Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. 

The decision was a victory for Monsanto and others in the agricultural biotechnology industry, with potential implications for other cases, like one involving genetically engineered sugar beets. 

But in practice the decision is not likely to measurably speed up the resumption of planting of the genetically engineered alfalfa.
–The New York Times 

Improvement predicted in Chesapeake ‘dead  zone’
The fish-smothering “dead zone” now forming in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay is likely to be one of the smallest in the past 25 summers, scientists predicted , a brighter outlook they credited to favorable weather as well as to long-running efforts to clean up the estuary.

Researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science forecast that this summer will produce the fifth-smallest stretch of water in the bay’s depths deprived of the oxygen that fish, crabs and oysters need to breathe.

Whether that means the bay is on the road to recovery depends on which scientist you ask.
–The Baltimore Sun 

Taconite mill to pay $19,000 in air-quality case
ArcelorMittal Mine Inc. recently agreed to pay a $19,000 civil penalty for alleged air quality violations and will be required to complete corrective actions to bring the facility back into compliance within 45 days, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announced.  

The company owns and operates a taconite production facility in Virginia, Minn. The facility processes taconite ore and produces pellets for iron-making.  

ArcelorMittal’s air quality permit, issued in 2007, regulates equipment emissions and sets allowable operating ranges for air pollution control devices at several stages of the production process. Company monitoring reports submitted between the second half of 2006 and the second half of 2009 documented a number of deviations from air pollution control equipment permit requirements and allowable operating parameters.
–MPCA News Release 

 Grants, loans available for water protection
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking grant proposals from local government units and other entities interested in leading a nonpoint-source, pollution-control project. Priority for funding will be given to projects that protect waters currently meeting state water quality standards. 

The due date for proposals is 4:30 p.m., Aug. 13. 

 The MPCA anticipates there will be $2 million available for grants and $2 million for loans this year. Eligible applicants include watershed districts, Indian tribes, cities and counties, joint powers organizations and watershed management organizations. There is a $500,000 limit on each grant funding request and no limit for a loan request. Proposals must be sent electronically to CWP.Grant.PCA@ state.mn.us. 

This year, the MPCA will offer funds for two types of projects:

  • Resource investigation to monitor, assess and develop a diagnostic study for water bodies, along with a plan to implement activities that address the needs of the water bodies.
     
  • Implementation of activities already identified by a comprehensive assessment and planning process in the watershed or area around the water body of concern. 

For information, go www.pca.state.mn.us/water/cwp-319.html.
–MPCA News Release

Progress seen on curly-leaf pondweed
Two years after Eden Prairie’s Anderson Lakes were drained in an experiment with natural weed control, rain is finally filling them up again and early results are encouraging:

The weeds, after back-to-back cold treatments, seem to be in retreat.

Northwest and Southwest Anderson Lakes were drained in the fall of 2008 to expose the lake beds to a winter freeze in an attempt to kill unwanted curly-leaf pondweed. The freeze targeted burrlike buds embedded in the lake bed that allow the weed to reproduce.
–The Star Tribune

 

 

Phosphorus, wind farms and ‘Kentucky tuna’

April 26, 2010

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles where they originally were published.

Group sees protection for 404 species
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has filed a massive petition to protect 404 freshwater species in the southeastern U.S. The list includes 48 fish, 92 mussels and snails, 92 crayfish and other crustaceans, 82 plants, 13 reptiles (including five map turtles), four mammals, 15 amphibians, 55 insects, and three birds. The species live in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

 Why seek protection for so many species at once? The CBD says they all form a cohesive ecosystem, and they depend upon each other for their survival. According to the CBD’s Web site about what it refers to as the southeastern freshwater extinction crisis,  “All these species are intricately interconnected: For example, the map turtles’ survival depends on the abundance of snails and mussels, which they eat, while mussels depend on fish to host their larvae—and the fish, in turn, depend on the abundance of flies, whose larvae they consume.”
–Scientific American

 Agencies disagree over mine filling with water
A disagreement between two government agencies has stalemated a solution to a big problem for the Iron Range town of Bovey. That’s where a nearby mine pit continues filling with water that could inundate Bovey if not stopped. 

The 2008 state bonding bill authorized $3.5 million to draw down water in the Canisteo Mine pit — and two years later the money remains unspent while the water keeps rising.
–Minnesota Public Radio

 Governors back Cape Cod wind farm
Political pressure continues to build on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as he prepares to announce his decision this week on the fate of a proposed wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., that has been stalled for nine years.

 The governors of six East Coast states called on Mr. Salazar last week to approve the project, which is proposed by Cape Wind Associates and would be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Turning it down, they said, especially on the grounds that it would harm the view from historic sites, “would establish a precedent that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to site offshore wind projects anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard.” 

Their states — Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — all have offshore wind projects in the works. Four of the governors are Democrats and two, in New Jersey and Rhode Island, are Republicans, showing that views of Cape Wind do not break down along political lines.
–The New York Times

Wisconsin phosphorus rules could cost $1.3 billion
Nobody wants weeds and algae choking Wisconsin’s lakes. But are people willing to pay to clean up the widespread and sometimes dangerous problem? 

A proposal from the state Department of Natural Resources to toughen standards on phosphorus, a nutrient in fertilizers that causes weed growth in the state’s waters, could result in an $85 million bill to the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) for an upgrade of its treatment systems, according to district officials. That, they say, could add $40 to the average residential customer’s annual bill. 

Statewide, according to DNR estimates, as many as 160 treatment plants could be affected, and the total cost of improvements to treatment systems could run as high as $1.3 billion.
–The Wisconsin State Journal

Judge blasts ‘glacial delay’ in Everglades clean-up
In the two decades since pledging to clean up the Everglades, Florida water managers, environmental regulators and political leaders have professed unwavering commitment to getting the difficult and costly job done.

 In a double-barreled legal blast this month, two Miami federal judges found the state, abetted by a lax U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more committed to something else in the Everglades: foot dragging.

 “Glacial delay” is how an exasperated U.S. District Judge Alan Gold summed it up in a blistering ruling that ordered Florida environmental chief Michael Sole and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to appear personally in court in October with new plans and hard deadlines.
–The Miami Herald

Floating plastic fouls Atlantic
Researchers are warning of a new blight at sea: a swirl of confetti-like plastic debris stretching over a remote expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. The floating garbage — hard to spot from the surface and spun together by a vortex of currents — was documented by two groups of scientists who trawled the sea between Bermuda and the Azores. 

The studies describe a soup of micro-particles similar to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a phenomenon discovered a decade ago between Hawaii and California that researchers say probably also exists in other places around the globe. 

The debris is harmful for fish, sea mammals and, at the top of the food chain, potentially humans, even though much of the plastic has broken into such tiny pieces they are nearly invisible.
–The Associated Press 

A little white wine with that Kentucky tuna?
It’s Extreme Makeover: Aquatic Edition.

 Asian carp are reviled as vanquishers of native species, feared as hefty jumpers able to break a boatman’s jaw, and scorned as, well, carp. But even as Northern states battle to keep them from ravaging the Great Lakes, officials in the South, where the alien species have multiplied like guppies, are working to transform the carp into marketable assets.

 First, the rebranding. In January, Louisiana wildlife officials rolled out the Silverfin Promotion, enlisting chefs to create recipes for what they called the tasty white meat of the bighead carp and silver carp, the two dominant invaders. 

“A cross between scallops and crabmeat,” declared Philippe Parola, a noted seafood chef whose new recipes include silverfin almondine. 

Meanwhile, would-be carp exploiters in Kentucky, after trying the fish smoked, canned and in fried balls, concluded that it tasted remarkably like tuna and proposed labeling it Kentucky tuna.
–The New York Times

 Two men fined in minnow-selling case
The commercial minnow licenses of two Baudette men have been revoked for three years following an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources .

 John D. Hult, 69, and Kim D. Barsness, 55, convicted in Beltrami County District Court on April 14 for the attempted illegal selling of wild animals (minnows), also face fines and court costs of $1,500 each. A six-month jail sentence was stayed pending no similar incidents, but both men were placed on two years probation. 

Their equipment was forfeited to the state. 

Prior to the 2009 fishing season, the men were reported to be using invasive species-infested equipment from Lake of the Woods to take minnows from Upper Red Lake. 

To prevent the spread of invasive species, such as spiny waterfleas, to U.S. – Canada border waters, the DNR has implemented regulations on Rainy Lake, Namakan Lake, Rainy River and Lake of the Woods that prohibit the transport of water, prohibit harvest of bait for personal use, and restrict the commercial harvest of bait from those waters.
–DNR News Release

MPCA proposes water-quality standards

March 25, 2009

Every three years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires states to review, update and — in many cases — strengthen their water-quality standards. Minnesota is in the middle of one of those reviews, and, for the first time, regulators are proposing setting a standard for phosphorus – a common pollutant that feeds algae growth – in rivers and streams.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency also is considering toughening its standard for nitrate in rivers and lakes by weighing, not just the pollutant’s impact on human health, but also its effect on fish and other organisms in the water. The agency is considering measuring turbidity in a new way and establishing a new standard for a chemical compound — nonylphenol – that is formed from chemicals once widely used in industrial detergents and pesticides and in the production of paper. The compound is banned in Europe, and the EPA is working to phase out its use in the U.S.

The MPCA has announced its intent to set or upgrade the standards for phosphorus, nitrate and nonylphenol, but numerical limits have not been made public. Once the limits are proposed, probably by late spring, citizens will have until fall to informally comment on them. The changes will be subject to a hearing before an administrative law judge next year.

The Freshwater Society interviewed Mark Tomasek, a supervisor in the agency’s water quality standards unit, about the rule changes. To read the question-and-answer interview from the Facets newsletter, go to the Freshwater Society web site or click here.