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Environment Minnesota
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Waterfront Bulletin
By
MN Pollution Control Agency

Since voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008, the MPCA and other agencies have more funding for water quality. Making the agencies accountable for that funding and its goal of clean water, several environmental groups successfully lobbied this past legislative session for the Clean Water Accountability Act.

This new law aims to ensure that state reports are more specific in identifying all sources of pollution, that state agencies target funding where it can have the most benefit, and that the state report to the public on its progress toward clean water goals.

This new law defines a fairly new approach by the MPCA called WRAPS, which stands for Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies. Over the past few years, the agency has worked to implement awatershed approach to protecting and restoring lakes and streams. Whereas Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)  focused on single impairments in individual lakes and stream segments, WRAPs takes a holistic approach to watersheds as a whole. The MPCA is transitioning from individual TMDLs to WRAPS.

Under the old TMDL approach, the MPCA was able to meet all the EPA requirements, but this approach had several disadvantages, including Inefficiency at all stages of a project. Under the individual TMDL approach, it would have taken a century to assess all the state’s major surface waters.

Now the MPCA is focusing on achieving clean water for Minnesota instead of just meeting the federal TMDL requirements. With the watershed approach, the MPCA can assess the state’s waters more efficiently, saving money and time. The MPCA is currently on track for monitoring all of the state’s 81 major watersheds by 2017. The agency is also collecting more data, informing local plans and decisions, and producing a watershed plan that goes beyond the TMDLs to include timelines for actions.

Under the new law, WRAPS must include the following:

  • A precise assessment of pollution sources and needed reductions, including those from nonpoint sources;
  • Deadlines and milestones for assessing progress;
  • Strategies to put the money where it will have the best result; and
  • A plan for effective monitoring

The Act also requires the state to develop the following:

  • Biennial reporting by the MPCA of progress in achieving pollution reductions; and
  • A nonpoint priority funding plan by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.

Gaylen Reetz, director of the MPCA watershed division, explained the WRAPS approach to the MPCA Citizens Board at its June meeting. View the webcast of the presentation for details, including the tools that the agency uses in developing WRAPS and the finished products.

Minnesota Public Radio also reported on the Clean Water Accountability Act in the finals days of the legislative session.