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...this standard makes no sense

Dear Editor:
Minnesota cities are committed to good wastewater treatment. That’s a huge cost for cities and one we take very seriously. Here are a couple of facts about sulfate in water.
1. There are bodies of water with much higher sulfate levels and wild rice is growing just fine.
2. Drinking water standard for sulfates is 250 ppm; this means it is safe to drink at the level.
3. The state of Minnesota is the only state with a sulfate standard at all, and it is only in waters where there is wild rice.
In 1973, the state of Minnesota adopted a sulfate standard of 10 ppm in all municipal and industrial discharge permits that discharge into bodies of water with wild rice. The standard was adopted using research from the 1940s.
In 2013 the state hired the University of Minnesota to do a scientific study of the effects of sulfates on wild rice and to determine what the standard should be. Also the Minnesota chamber hired an independent laboratory to do the same.
Both studies agree that sulfate is not toxic to wild rice. The studies also found that if sulfates turn to sulfides it does slow the growth of wild rice. However if there is iron present in the water, iron combines with the sulfides and doesn’t allow the sulfides to affect the wild rice.
The extremist environmental groups’ real reason for pushing the 10 ppm standard is to stop the nonferrous mining projects in northeastern Minnesota.
The truth is if the state enforces the 10 ppm sulfate standard it could close every iron ore mine in Minnesota and cost millions of dollars in upgrades to municipal wastewater treatment plants.
It could cost Minntac alone hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment and millions more in yearly maintenance.
Rep. Carly Melin of Hibbing has a bill in the House to stop the MPCA from enforcing the standard until they have a list of waters that qualify for wild rice protection.
What we expect from our MPCA is standards that are based on valid scientific evidence, not pressure from environmentalists.
We have been mining in northeastern Minnesota for more than 100 years. Have you ever heard of a wild rice shortage?
I have been a state of Minnesota licensed water and wastewater operator for 35 years and this standard makes no sense. I urge you to get involved or risk the loss of thousands of jobs in northeastern Minnesota.
Chris Vreeland
Hoyt Lakes

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