Tricounty News

Comments sought on water quality

MPCA seeks comments on water quality improvement report for Pearl Lake, Mill Creek

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking comments on a water quality improvement report for Pearl Lake and Mill Creek in Stearns County. The report, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), focuses on pollution caused by excess nutrients in Pearl Lake and by bacteria in Mill Creek. The public comment period begins Jan. 9, and continues through Feb. 8.

Pearl Lake and Mill Creek are in the Sauk River Watershed in central Minnesota. Pearl Lake was added to Minnesota's list of impaired waters in 2008, and Mill Creek was added in 2006. This study indicates that a 25-percent reduction in phosphorus entering Pearl Lake will be required to meet water quality standards. Mill Creek will require at least a 60-percent reduction of bacteria, mainly E. coli, to meet its water quality standards.

The TMDL report is part of a nationwide effort under the federal Clean Water Act to identify and clean up pollution in streams, rivers and lakes. Every two years, states are required to submit a list of impaired waters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A TMDL report is a scientific study that calculates the maximum amount of a pollutant a water body can receive (known as the "loading capacity") without exceeding water quality standards.

After receiving public comments, the MPCA will revise the draft Pearl Lake and Mill Creek TMDL report and submit it to the EPA for approval. Following EPA approval, a plan will be developed to reduce pollution throughout the watershed.

The Pearl Lake and Mill Creek TMDL draft report is available on the MPCA's Mill Creek Bacteria and Pearl Lake Nutrients TMDL webpage, or at the MPCA's St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road N.

Comments may be mailed to Greg Van Eeckhout, MPCA, 7678 College Rd, Ste. 105, Baxter, MN 56425, or sent by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For more information, call Van Eeckhout at (218) 316-3896, or toll-free at (800) 657-3864.

Written comments must include (1) a statement of your interest in the draft TMDL report; (2) a statement of the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft TMDL that you believe should be changed; and (3) specific reasons supporting your position.

More information on the state's impaired waters list and TMDL studies is available on the MPCA's Impaired Waters and TMDLs webpage, or by calling (800) 657-3864.