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Great Lakes Article:

Nearly 2,000 MN Water Bodies Now Require Cleanup

FOR RELEASE: July 9, 2002

Contacts: Ralph Pribble, 651/296-7792 Howard Markus, 651/296-7295, 800/657-3864

St. Paul, Minn. - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has released a draft list of lakes and stream segments in Minnesota that are considered "impaired" and need to be cleaned up under federal law. The 2002 draft Impaired Waters list contains 1,780 lakes or streams. About 500 are new additions since the last list, published in 1998.

The list includes a number of lakes in northeastern Minnesota that are affected by mercury and other lakes throughout the state that have excess nutrients. It also includes segments of streams, including parts of the Mississippi, Red, Long Prairie, Minnesota, Chippewa, Grindstone and Whitewater rivers.

Under the federal Clean Water Act, states are required to list every four years their lakes and streams that do not meet federal water-quality standards established to protect them from pollution. The states then must prepare studies called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the impaired water bodies. Minnesota's list has grown as the MPCA collects more information on water quality.

A TMDL defines the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet its water-quality standards. Examples of TMDL pollutants include ammonia, mercury, bacteria and sediment. A water body may also be impaired if its level of dissolved oxygen is too low or its temperature is too high, conditions that can harm aquatic life. TMDLs set limits and reduction goals to ensure impaired water bodies will be restored to and maintained at applicable water-quality standards.

The MPCA is required to list, prioritize and attach a schedule estimating starting and completion dates for TMDLs on each of the newly listed lakes or stream segments. Notice of the availability of the draft 2002 list for Minnesota was published in the State Register on July 8, 2002. The MPCA solicits the public's comments on the list through August 7, 2002. The agency will then finalize the draft list and submit it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for federal approval.

The proposed 2002 Impaired Waters list, methodology for listing, and regional maps may be accessed on the MPCA's Web site at Questions and requests for printed copies of the list may be directed to Howard Markus at (651) 296-7295 or (800) 657-3864. Comments on the draft 2002 Impaired Waters list should be mailed to him at MPCA, Environmental Outcomes Division, 520 Lafayette Rd. N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4196.

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