Relax. The agency does not suggest changing the standards for our drinking water. One can expect that these lofty benchmarks of purity – ensuring Minnesota remains “the land of the blue waters of the sky,” as the Hamm’s brewery in St. Paul sang to itself – will remain intact.
Instead, the changes proposed by AMLA would apply to water used by industries like mining and things like irrigation and ranching. Specifically, the proposal would remove numerical standards in favor of narrative standards for conductivity, hardness, sodium and bicarbonates in water intended for industry and irrigation. And they would allow higher amounts of chloride, alkalinity, salinity and total dissolved solids in waters used for industry, irrigation and animals, as Jimmy Lovrien of the News Tribune reported.
Environmentalists and others are concerned – quite understandable. The standards targeted for updating are used when drafting discharge authorizations for industries. But the proposal would actually make the pollution limits set in those permits more enforceable, according to AMLA.
Improving the agency’s ability to enforce water quality is something that can be easily supported by most Minnesota residents statewide.
An administrative law judge agreed last week, saying in recommending approval of the MPCA’s proposal that the agency has the legal authority to make “necessary and reasonable” rule changes to Class 3 and 4 waters. state (again, waters for industrial processes, agriculture, and wildlife). Judge Eric L. Lipman’s recommendation was released on Friday.
Existing standards are outdated and changes are long overdue, the agency argued effectively and convincingly. With approval, the new standards would at least be “equally protective”, according to AMLA.
His proposal now continues with a rulemaking process that can ensure, among other things, compliance with the Clean Water Act. After appropriate considerations and reviews, the proposal can be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval.
As the administrative law judge last week, the Minnesotans can here recognize “the reasonableness of the agency’s approach,” as AMPA spokesman Darin Broton said in a statement to the News Tribune. .
“The agency has always said that Minnesota can protect its waters while lowering regulatory barriers using the latest science as a guide,” Broton said.
If this helps our job-creating industries play their part in ensuring water purity, while ensuring their ability to operate profitably and stay in business, so much the better. It’s a win-win, with no expected impact to our drinking water – or our sky-blue beer-making water.