Time is running out to comment on wild rice sulfate standards

EYE ON MINING – The debate over wild rice sulfate standards continues across Minnesota.

On March 26 of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency partially approved and partially disapproved of the list of degraded waters in Minnesota’s Clean Water Act 2020.

The federal agency said part of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s list did not meet required standards set by the Clean Water Act.

In 1973, Minnesota adopted a sulfate standard to protect wild rice, based on studies showing that wild rice was found primarily in low sulfate waters. The standard limits sulfate to 10 parts per million in wild rice water, but this has since been debated.

According to the MPCA, while the science was correct at the time, more recent studies show how sulfate affects wild rice and they concluded that sulfate levels should be calculated for each wild rice water based on specific factors. to the place.

The EPA’s list of supplemental waters includes several in our area.

Map courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Mining industry experts argue that the outdated standard would add a major financial burden to the industry and local communities. In addition, the EPA lists waters as altered that have not been properly regulated to designate them as wild rice waters.

Environmental groups argue that the standard is necessary to protect wild rice which serves many purposes including ecological value, cultural significance, etc.

The public comment period on this issue ends Wednesday, June 30.

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