Minnesota is the guinea pig for water quality
Today, the battle about numeric nutrient water quality standards is “on our doorstep in the heart of the MACA region,” reported Mid America CropLife Association’s new water consultant, Steve Taylor.
In his column for the MACA newsletter issued this week, Taylor reported on the issue and pointed to a report from Minnesota that is chilling the blood of many looking at the potential for the Environmental Protection Agency to take new aggressive enforcement and rulemaking under the Clean Water Act. His column is reproduced here:
“On March 13, several environmental groups filed two lawsuits against the EPA. One lawsuit seeks to require EPA to force municipal wastewater treatment plants to make very costly renovations to reduce the amount of nutrients in wastewater. This lawsuit is intended to drive a wedge between our city neighbors and agriculture. And, unfortunately, it is working as they planned.
“The National Association for Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) released a press release in response to the litigation stating that 'NACWA calls on these organizations to abandon this litigation and join with us to focus our efforts where the impact will be the greatest: on agricultural operations that account for up to 90 percent of the nutrient pollution problem in the Gulf of Mexico.'
“The other lawsuit is to require EPA to force states in the Mississippi River basin to adopt numeric nutrient water quality standards. This is very similar to the initial lawsuit that was filed in Florida [which has been widely publicized].
“On the national policy level, MACA continues to engage these issues through its affiliation with the Agricultural Nutrients Policy Council (ANPC) and the Federal Water Quality Coalition (FWQC). In my discussions with both these groups, I know there is consideration of intervening in this Midwest lawsuit as was done in the Florida lawsuit.
“On a more 'on-the-ground' level, MACA is engaging this issue in a proactive manner looking at real steps that can be taken as far as reducing nutrient runoff from agricultural fields. Recently, I attended a 'Nutrient Summit" that was hosted by The Fertilizer Institute, the Agricultural Retailers Association, and others. The summit focused on the '4R' program as a way to reduce nutrient runoff while keeping agriculture profitable. More information on the '4R' program can be found at http://www.nutrientstewardship.com/. The summit also provided case studies of programs in states within the MACA region such as Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota. For the latest on what is happening on this issue in Minnesota, [information below is] provided by Bill Bond of the Minnesota Crop Production Retailers.