Water Quality Task Force Meeting
Call to Order
The Water Quality Task Force (WQTF) meeting was called to order by Jim Baumann at
Meeting and Agenda Overview
Dave Hokanson previewed the agendas of the WQTF meeting and combined WQTF/Water Quality Executive Committee (WQEC) meeting. He noted that the WQTF would need to communicate to the WQEC its priorities and plans during the joint meeting, adding that the WQEC would be discussing budget and staffing options for water quality work following the joint meeting. Further, Hokanson stated that the UMRBA Board would ultimately make staffing and budget decisions during its May 2007 meeting, while establishing an FY 08 budget for UMRBA.
Approval of Summary of Previous Meeting
Hokanson asked for any comments or corrections regarding the
summary of the
The following corrections and
amendments were made to the
Good moved that the summary be accepted, with the above changes. Marvin Hora seconded motion. The meeting summary was approved.
Changes to WQTF Contact Information
The following changes and corrections to contact information were requested by the WQTF:
Hora reported that
Hora provided an update of Minnesota’s efforts regarding perfluorochemicals
(PFCs), including the recently issued fish consumption advisory for the
Mississippi River, Pools 2 through 6. He explained that known sources of PFCs
In regard to the fish consumption advisories, Hora explained that the advisories for PFCs illustrate trends different than those related to other contaminants. He indicated that the highest levels of PFCs were being observed in smaller centrachids, which is not what has been observed for other contaminants. Hora added that PFCs had also been found in tissue of fish taken from urban lakes in the Twin Cities area, and in this case, the source of the PFCs has not yet been identified.
Hora indicated a willingness to share the
Hokanson suggested that PFCs, as an emerging contaminant, might be an area where the WQTF would like to receive additional information in the future. He also asked Hora about the human health and/or environmental effects related to PFCs. Hora responded that PFCs accumulate in liver tissue and may cause developmental impacts, though there was still much to be learned regarding effects. He also explained that PFCs are very persistent in the environment, and those compounds having a 6- or 8-carbon chain are much more persistent than those with a 4- carbon chain.
Hora noted that MPCA is undertaking a $1.2 million
investigation related to PFCs. Shepard asked if this would include water
sampling, as well as fish tissue. Hora
replied that water sampling and fish tissue would be included. He added that sampling conducted to date did
not demonstrate the presence of PFCs in the
Hora indicated that other sources of PFCs, such as fire-fighting foam, may have contributed PFCs to the environment. Sullivan asked whether fire retardants used on roofs may contribute as a source. Hora replied that this was possible, but probably an unlikely PFC source.
Olson asked whether this issue would be addressed at the
upcoming 2007 Fish Contaminant Forum. Arrignoi asked if Pat McCann is the
contact person in
Noting the larger scale at which the issue may become
important, Hora indicated that ORSANCO has expressed an interest in the topic.
Short observed that there is also a 3M plant located on Pool 14 of the UMR. Hora further noted that there is a class
action lawsuit in
Sullivan reported that EMAP had conducted some monitoring
for PFCs on the UMR using whole fish samples, as well as the
Baumann stated that
Good noted that the PFC issue is an example of where a UMR-wide monitoring strategy would be helpful.
Gaylen Reetz reported that 2009 is still the target completion date for the Lake Pepin TMDL. He noted that ongoing work includes isotope analysis to determine sources of sediment (such as banks, bluffs, or fields). Baumann commented that Lake Pepin TMDL work has included modeling of inputs and the modeled impacts of “shutting off” certain inputs.
Hora commented that the Minnesota Legislature remains
interested in endocrine disruptors.
Arrigoni added that the Great Lakes National Program Office is looking
at this issue. Olson asked what was driving the interest in endocrine
Reetz noted that permit implications of water quality
impairments had driven much of the interest in water quality issues at the
State Legislature, adding that approximately 100 permits are still held up pending
a decision in the
Good reported that the Lt. Governor continues to be
interested in the development of “coordinating councils” for the
Good also reported that some of the water quality monitoring on the Mississippi River previously performed by the Des Plaines office of Illinois EPA is now going to be performed by the Springfield office.
303(d) Impairment List
Mohsen Dkhili reported that
Methodology for 2008 Cycle
Dkhili also reported that
More generally, Baumann observed that it would be
problematic to develop a TMDL based on something other than standards. Dkhili noted that
Dkhili suggested that a productive exercise for the WQTF may be to run a set of data through all the State’s methodologies and then compare the results. He suggested that such an effort may point out areas where greater consistency could be pursued.
Antidegradation Implementation Policy
Dkhili reported that the Missouri Clean Water Commission had
recently approved an antidegradation implementation policy. He asked whether the other States had a
similar policy addressing antidegradation implementation. Hora replied
Dissolved Oxygen Criteria
Dkhili noted that the development of an “instantaneous minimum”
criteria for dissolved oxygen has been problematic. He added that
Olson indicated that
Current Research/Great Rivers IBI
Sullivan reported that Wisconsin DNR staff are engaged in an effort to develop a common fish IBI for Great Rivers (including the UMR). He indicated that there was much interest in the effort and that it may be beneficial to take advantage of this enthusiasm and work towards a Great River/UMR IBI at this time. Sullivan also noted ongoing work in cooperation with Minnesota DNR to develop metrics for SAV on the upper portions of the UMR. He noted that these efforts were attempting to maintain consistency with EMAP-GRE work.
Good asked whether the applicable extent of the fish IBI
would be throughout the UMR. Sullivan
replied that the approach would be similar throughout, but that the IBI would
adjust to different reaches of the river.
He added that Erich Emery of ORSANCO was working with US EPA on IBI
development, and indicated that
303(d)/Integrated Report Methodology
Baumann stated that
Baumann noted that
US EPA Region 5
Modeling of Nutrient Contribution from
Franz reported that EPA will be providing a webcast on
Friday, May 11 to provide an update of the work Dale Robertson and others are
performing to model the nutrient contributions from
Franz reported on the effort being funded by US EPA to
establish 3-4 biomonitoring-based early warning stations on the
US EPA Region 7
Region 7 Staff Changes
Larry Shepard reported that Gale Hutton has retired, and Cheryl Chrisler is now acting director of the Environmental Services Division at Region 7.
Shepard described a recent issue involving the US Army Corps
of Engineers and the State of
Sullivan asked whether
Review of Region 7 Water Program by US EPA-Headquarters
Shepard reported that US EPA-Headquarters had recently completed a review of Region 7’s Water Program. He noted items of interest from those discussions as follows:
Thermal issues on the
§ Ethanol production, both in terms of water consumption by ethanol plants and expansion of corn production into marginal/erodable lands.
Good noted the importance of the ethanol issue, reporting
that 32 new plants are currently being proposed for
National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration
Shepard provided a brief report on the 2nd
National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration which was held April 23-27 in
UMRCC-Water Quality Technical Section
Olson reported on the March 2007 meeting of the UMRCC-Water Quality Technical Section. He noted the following in his report:
Shepard asked whether consideration would be giving to
listing Pool 13 as impaired, given that it did not meet the UMRCC
criteria. Olson replied that it would
not be likely in
Good asked if there was indeed a functional overlap between the WQTF and UMRCC-Water Quality Technical Section. Sullivan indicated that discussion of monitoring is likely to be the most duplicative, and that the “CWA-Ecosystem Restoration” workshops being pursued by UMRBA may also duplicate conversations going on within UMRCC. Hokanson mentioned that this issue would be brought to the attention of the Water Quality Executive Committee, both to familiarize its members with UMRCC-Water Quality Tech Section and so that they could consider how they would like their States to work with the UMRCC.
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program-Great Rivers Ecosystems
(EMAP-GRE)/Survey of the Nation’s Rivers and Streams
Shepard reported that the EMAP program is facing significant
funding cuts in FY08, with about a 50% reduction in regional EMAP funding
anticipated. He added that plans to
continue EMAP-GRE work on the
In regard to this national survey, Sullivan asked at what scale the assessment would occur. Good responded that it is essentially an ecoregion or EPA region level assessment. Shepard added that the assessment has been portrayed as “repeatable,” but the actual time frame for repeating may be different than the proposed five year cycle. Good asked whether, with the potential movement of EMAP work into the national assessment, more funds would be taken off the top of 106 grants to support the national assessment. Shepard replied that the supplemental monitoring money was added onto pre-existing 106 funds for participating states, so that 106 funds for States have not actually been reduced.
Hokanson provided a brief update on the status of the
UMR-EWMN project. He described the
establishment of a pilot monitoring station at Lock and Dam 15 in
Sullivan asked how data from the monitor could be obtained, as the website apparently makes it available only in 30-day batches. Hokanson replied that he would look into data and provide to Sullivan as available.
LTRMP-Additional Program Elements (APEs)
Hokanson noted that the “focusing questions” had been
established for the FY08 LTRMP APEs and that expressions of interest in working
in these areas were invited (through the State field stations) through
Clean Water Act-Ecosystem Restoration Workshops
Hokanson indicated that the proposed Clean Water Act-Ecosystem Restoration Workshops are currently being planned for September 2007, in conjunction with the meeting of the Water Quality Task Force. He added that funding had not yet been finalized for the workshops, but requested that Task Force members hold September 11-13 dates open at this time for the WQTF meeting and workshop.
Sediment and Fish Consumption Advisory Projects
Fish Consumption Advisories (FCAs)
Hokanson reviewed the 2 page summary document regarding FCAs that was provided in the meeting packets. He recalled the mixed reaction to the prospect of an interstate workgroup expressed by fish consumption advisory staff during the previous meeting of the Task Force. Hokanson also noted that potential next steps included: 1) a side-by-side comparison of the Great Lakes Protocol, RAFT Protocol, and ORSANCO Protocol, 2) sharing of data between States, 3) creating a proposed agenda for an interstate fish consumption meeting regarding the UMR, and 4) resuming communication with FCA staff once the previous steps were initiated/completed. He also noted the obstacles to continued progress, including resource constraints, limited interest by FCA staff (due to indirect connection between their work and CWA), interagency communication difficulties, competing priorities, limited empowerment of FCA staff to commit to changes, and allegiance to the Great Lakes Protocol by some States that may preclude interest in taking a potentially different approach on the UMR.
Holly Arrigoni reported that some progress has been made by
ORSANCO on harmonizing fish consumption advisories, in particular the fact that
the States appear to be comfortable with a unique protocol being applied on the
Hora commented that there may be some value in having US EPA
Region 7 look at the Great Lakes Protocol, but noted that it is unlikely that
Shepard suggested that it is important to consider what the best way to do FCAs for the UMR is, regardless of the particular approaches currently used by States. Hora replied that those States using the Great Lakes Protocol feel that it is the best approach and therefore are unlikely to change. He added that there is also often a concern about loss of historical data when changes are made in protocols. Arrigoni noted that ORSANCO has the advantage of being a single entity collecting samples itself and disseminating data to the States.
Shepard emphasized that, if the WQTF chose not to pursue this effort further, it should be able to explain the decision and give the WQEC a rationale for this course of action.
Baumann asked the State representatives present to describe the roles played by their agencies (those with Clean Water Act programs) in Fish Consumption Advisories. Responses were as follows:
State (CWA Agency)
Sullivan offered that the UMRCC has created a database of fish tissue results, and that this is available as a resource for fish consumption advisories.
Baumann suggested that some of the work, such as the comparison of protocols, could be done by the WQTF without necessarily involving the FCA experts.
Shepard pointed out that interstate inconsistencies in FCAs could potentially be identified as an issue by the GAO at some point in the future. Stoerker added that the compelling case, from a Clean Water Act perspective, is that inconsistencies in 303(d) listings result from differences in States’ FCAs and the processes by which the FCAs are incorporated into States’ listing decisions.
Olson pointed out that progress has been made in improving
consistency, particularly in
Hora suggested that the WQTF may seek to have US EPA Regions 5 and 7 work on improving consistency in FCAs.
Baumann proposed the following options in regard to continued work on UMR FCAs:
1) Consider the progress made to be what is achievable at this time. Table further action.
2) Enhance data sharing role.
3) Work to develop a consistent “message” regarding FCAs among UMR States.
4) Focus on emerging issues related to FCAs (such as PFCs)
He added that the recommendations of the 2005 FCA report imply a facilitator role for UMRBA.
Hora suggested that it may be best to be forward-looking, focusing on emerging issues such as PFCs, rather than expending further energy on PCB- or mercury-related FCA issues.
Good offered that increased consistency is certainly desirable, but without a federal mandate, it may be difficult to achieve.
Baumann asked the group how it wanted to proceed. Hora suggested that the issue be referred to the WQEC, so that the WQEC could provide input on this project as a priority. The group agreed to bring the following to the attention of the WQEC regarding the FCA project:
1) Current status and why seeking consistency in FCAs continues to be important.
2) Challenges holding back further progress on FCA work.
3) Options for continued effort.
4) Request for WQEC to assign a priority in work on the FCA project.
Sediment-Related Water Quality Criteria
Hokanson provided a summary of the status of the sediment-related water quality criteria project as follows:
Hokanson noted that items for discussion by the WQTF at this point include:
Olson reported that he distributed the report to
Baumann commented that he had shared the report with
Dkhili commented that Missouri DNR does not view sediment, in general, as a priority issue and that this may impact the ability to address sediment concerns on the UMR.
Good suggested that it could be possible to work on the research needs list, but that other work regarding sediment-related water quality criteria may need to be tabled until after there is further progress on the designated use effort. Baumann commented that, while awaiting further progress on the project, States should still move ahead with listings where a use impairment has been identified using current approaches (such as in Minnesota and Wisconsin). Good concurred with this perspective.
Baumann added that the planned workshops addressing the relationship between the Clean Water Act and ecosystem restoration on the UMR may also be a forum where further discussion/progress could be made regarding sediment.
Hokanson pointed out that it may be important to keep communicating the research needs identified in the report. As an example, he mentioned that one of the focus areas under consideration for LTRMP Additional Programs Elements (APEs) had recently been revised in a manner that would actually be less likely to address the research needs given in the report.
Stoerker summarized for the group the reasons it appeared that further action on the sediment project was likely to be tabled as:
1) Need to work on designated uses before moving any further on criteria, and
2) The timeliness and importance of the work is varied for the different UMR States (with the recognition that States should not hold off in actions related to sediment issues simply because the WQTF has not completed all portions of the sediment project).
Sullivan asked for clarification on whether States should wait for guidance from the WQTF or move ahead as they see fit. Hora replied that States still have the right to move ahead as they see fit at this time
Baumann summarized the discussions of the WQTF regarding the sediment project as follows:
1) There should be continued work on the research needs list.
2) Work on the guidance document should be tabled for now because:
Interstate Assessment and Listing Consultation
Hora reported that
Baumann described two proposals for impairment listing
currently being considered by
Nutrient Enrichment in Off-Channels Areas from the St.
Croix River to Lock and Dam 9: Baumann described this potential impairment
as being based on three factors: 1) pH values in exceedance of the criteria of
9.0 (though not in all seasons), 2) reduction of dissolved oxygen below the
criteria of 5.0 mg/l, and 3) consideration of mats of filamentous algae and
duckweed as an exceedance of the State’s narrative water quality criteria. Additionally, the proposal notes that a
portion of the affected reaches (
High Suspended Solids and Turbidity from the St. Croix
River to Upper
Bauman summarized this potential impairment as based on: 1) consideration
of suspended solids/turbidity levels as an exceedance of the State’s narrative
water quality criteria, 2) negative impacts of high suspended solids and
turbidity on the growth of SAV in the area, and 3) increased sedimentation
resulting from high suspended solids and turbidity levels. The proposal also notes that turbidity values
Baumann noted that, in both cases, the challenge facing the
proposals is establishing a tie to
Stoerker asked whether US EPA had been consulted regarding
these potential listings. Baumann replied that he was not aware of any specific
conversations with the US EPA. Hokanson
noted that, since the nutrient enrichment proposal addresses off-channel areas,
it may be relevant for any work the WQTF does to identify designated uses that
only apply in certain areas of the river.
Hora commented that
Hokanson mentioned that, as of the most recent conference
call, the three States directly affected by this decision (Wisconsin,
Minnesota, and Iowa) agreed to have one more conference call before a final
decision is made in October 2007.
Baumann explained that this forum is being used because it was felt that
it would be difficult to gather all the participants for a WQTF meeting and
that there may not be time in the WQTF meeting to fully address the issue. Hokanson and Baumann did note, however, that
there would be one more WQTF meeting (in September 2007) where the issue could
be brought up before
Hokanson asked Bauman how the other States’ review and input
would feed into
Olson next summarized the content of
Baumann commented that
Short asked why
Baumann asked whether
Short stated that there were no new developments in
Dkhili commented that no impairments for the Mississippi
River are included in
Short added that a change in
Baumann suggested that the impairment comparison chart
should reflect the fact that
Shepard deferred any specific Region 7 commentary to the subsequent discussion of questions posed to the Task Force regarding assessment, listing, and reporting.
Questions Distributed to Task Force Regarding Assessment, Listing, and Reporting by UMR States
Hokanson noted the summarized responses to questions that had been distributed to the WQTF subsequent to the January meeting. He asked Shepard to give his reactions to these responses, as Shepard had originally asked for these questions to be addressed to the WQTF.
Shepard offered the following observations regarding the questions and responses:
Hokanson commented that the responses to the first two questions highlighted the fact that the UMR States have either already implemented integrated reporting or will soon be using integrated reporting.
Hora noted that there is still a distinction in the method used for a 305(b) assessment vs. a 303(d) assessment. Baumann concurred, noting that there are differing levels of complexity for the two assessments, different levels of data needed, and different levels of public comment. Hora added that even though there is an integrated report, there are still separate processes for 305(b) and 303(d) completion.
In regard to the States’ use of the “minimum set of
assessment reaches” agreed to by the WQTF, Dkhili noted that
Shepard next referred to the question which asked States whether they would be willing to make an impairment listing due to the fact that a neighboring State had made a listing, noting that the States’ responses had indicated that individual methodologies largely prevented listing on this basis. He added that the States can either seek consistency themselves or potentially be forced by EPA into a more consistent approach.
Hokanson asked what obligation was incurred by a State when a neighboring State listed an impairment on a shared water. Baumann replied that the immediate impact was in relation to permitting, where permitting a new discharge to impaired water would be restricted.
Dkhili commented that this discussion highlights the need for consistency in methodology, and that this should be the focus of seeking greater consistency in listings. He again suggested a comparison in protocols across the States as an approach for identifying interstate inconsistencies.
Hokanson indicated that he would update the summarized responses according to the discussion, and then share with the WQTF and WQEC.
WQEC Activities/Report to the WQEC
Hokanson provided a brief update on the recent activities of the WQEC, including their efforts to implement the recommendations of the Organizational Options report and pursuit of funding for the UMRBA’s water quality activities.
Baumann summarized the following issues to be reported on to the WQEC at the joint meeting on May 3:
Dkhili moved to adjourn, Good seconded. The meeting was adjourned at .