Minnesota seeks environmental opinions, dreams

The Freshwater Society blog publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

Environmental Congress seeks public input
Did you miss your chance to give state officials your opinions on Minnesota’s land and waters as they exist now, and the vision you have for the kind of environment you want your children and grandchildren to enjoy?

Nope, you didn’t miss it. You can still make your thinking known – in three more public meetings or in an on-line survey.

The Minnesota Environment Congress, an effort ordered by Gov. Mark Dayton and organized by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, drew big crowds last week to public meetings in Rochester, Bloomington and Duluth. Three more public meetings are scheduled:

 Monday, Dec. 10, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at Worthington High School.

 Wednesday, Dec. 12, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Atwood Memorial Center at St. Cloud State University.

 Friday, Dec. 14, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. in the Comstock Memorial Union at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

All the meetings are open to the public. For more information, go to the Environmental Congress website. Read the Minnesota Environment and Energy Report Card discussed at the public meetings. If you cannot attend one of the meetings, give your views on the environment in the on-line survey.

Dec. 13 forum set on Red River and L. Winnipeg
On Thursday, Dec. 13, the Consulate General of Canada in Minnesota will sponsor a free, public forum in Minneapolis on the threats facing the north-flowing Red River, Lake Winnipeg and all the waters flowing into them. The Freshwater Society is a co-sponsor of the forum.

The forum at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute is intended for scientists, teachers, students, policy-makers, public officials and anyone interested in learning about the health of the Red River Basin.

The forum, which will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free and open to the public, but registration is  required. Learn more and register. Get directions to the Humphrey Institute.

Miami-Dade seeks to avoid clean-water suit 
Six months into negotiations with federal regulators over Miami-Dade’s aging sewer system, the county has come up with a $1.5 billion, 15-year plan to rebuild pipes, pumps and sewage treatment plants that in some cases are almost 100 years old.

County leaders devised the proposal in an attempt to fend off a federal lawsuit, and potentially millions of dollars in fines, for not abiding by the federal Clean Water Act.

The county also has proposed replacing or repairing a good portion of the 7,500 miles of sewer lines that regularly rupture and spill millions of gallons of raw waste into local waterways and Biscayne Bay.

Before any work is to begin, the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency — which put the county on notice in May — must accept the county’s terms. The plan, referred to as a consent decree, also must be endorsed by a majority of county commissioners. That could come as soon as late January or early February.
–The Miami Herald

EPA revises bacteria standards
The Environmental Protection Agency on Nov. 26 revised its recommended water quality criteria for recreational waters, setting out measures to protect against gastrointestinal illness from fecal contamination.

The agency said the criteria, if adopted by states into their water quality standards, would promote rapid water testing, encourage early alerts to beach-goers, and protect against pollution after particularly heavy rainfalls. It covers all waters, including marine, estuarine, Great Lakes, and inland waters that are designated for primary contact recreation.

The new criteria replace criteria established in 1986 (21 DEN A-1, 2/2/12). The revised criteria set out two sets of concentration thresholds for fecal bacteria–enterococci and e-coli–measured as the geometric mean of colony-forming units, or cfu, in monitored water quality samples.

The agency said either set of concentration thresholds would protect the public from exposure to harmful levels of fecal bacteria and associated illness, while swimming, surfing, and engaging in other water contact activities.