The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will host a Wild Rice Standards Study Open House on Thursday, February 28, from 6- 8 p.m. at Dakota Lodge (1600 Stassen Lane) in West St. Paul.
The Open House, hosted by the MPCA, will include an overview of the Wild Rice Standards Study at 6 p.m. followed by a poster session. Posters will focus on current and future research projects, the standards setting process and study timeline, and the current sulfate standard to protect wild rice. Those attending the Open House will have an opportunity to provide input to the MPCA on the work to date. The Wild Rice Standards Study is funded by the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment.
Please see the background section below or the agency’s wild rice web page http://www.pca.state.mn.us/ktqh1083 for more information.
Wild rice is an important component of aquatic communities in parts of Minnesota, particularly northern Minnesota. It provides food for waterfowl, and shelter for animals and fish. Wild rice is also a very important cultural resource to many Minnesotans, and is economically important to those who harvest and market wild rice.
Past studies have shown that wild rice is primarily found in waters with relatively low sulfate concentrations. In 1973 Minnesota adopted a standard to protect this important resource. This 10 mg/liter sulfate standard, which is found in Minnesota Rules 7050.0224, subpart 2, protects “water used for production of wild rice during periods when the rice may be susceptible to damage by high sulfate levels.” This standard applies to both natural standards of wild rice and commercial paddy rice fields.
The Minnesota Legislature provided funding in 2011 from the Clean Water Fund for a Wild Rice Standards Study to gather additional information about the effects of sulfate and other substances on the growth of wild rice. The legislation included a $1.5 million appropriation to implement a wild rice research plan and contract with scientific experts to conduct the study. Research projects funded through the study began in 2012 and will be completed by December 2013. While results are not yet available from the studies, the MPCA and researchers would like to share information about what has been accomplished to date and plans for the coming year. The study includes multiple lines of evidence focused on three key areas:
Any changes to the wild rice sulfate standard, if supported by the study results, would occur through a formal, public rulemaking process that would begin in early 2014.