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Public Comment Period Now Open on Groundwater Protection Rule

Public may submit written comments during 80-day comment period and testify at hearings this summer

St. Paul, MN: The public comment period for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) proposed Groundwater Protection Rule (GPR) is now open and will remain open until July 26, 2018.

Starting today, public comments on the Groundwater Protection Rule can be made on the Office of Administrative Hearings website at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/gwprhearingnotice.

“In an effort to ensure all stakeholders have the opportunity to have their voices heard, we have extended the traditional 30-day public comment period by 50 days and will hold an 80-day public comment period,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “I encourage anyone with interest in the rule to provide their feedback through the rulemaking process.”

Nitrate is one of the most common contaminants in Minnesota's groundwater; elevated nitrate levels in drinking water can pose serious health concerns for humans. The goal of the Groundwater Protection Rule is to work with local farmers to reduce elevated nitrate levels in groundwater. The proposed rule would regulate the use of nitrogen fertilizer in areas of the state where soils are vulnerable to leaching and where drinking water supplies have high nitrate levels.

Public input is important to the rule making process, and in addition to submitting written comments online, the public can also testify on the rule at Administrative Law Judge hearings scheduled this summer.

The Administrative Law Judge hearing schedule is as follows:

Farmington

Monday, July 16, 2018

1:00 – 6:00 PM

Robert Boeckman Middle School

800 Denmark Ave

Farmington, MN

Stewartville

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Stewartville Civic Center

105 1st Street East

Stewartville, MN

Worthington

Thursday, July 19, 2018

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Minnesota West Community and Technical College

1450 College Way

Worthington, MN

St. Cloud

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

River’s Edge Convention Center

10 Fourth Avenue South

St. Cloud, MN

Park Rapids

Thursday, July 26, 2018

9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

American Legion

900 1st Street East

Park Rapids, MN

The public comment period ends on July 26 and the Office of Administrative Hearings will conduct a post-hearing comment period of a minimum of five business days until August 2.

Timeline for Groundwater Protection Rulemaking

The publication of the proposed rule triggers a formal comment period during which anyone can submit comments on the proposed rule to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

April 30, 2018 – The State Register publishes the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule and Statement of Need and Reasonableness.

April 30 – July 26, 2018 – Time period for submitting comments on the rule to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

May/June 2018 – The Department of Agriculture holds information sessions on the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule and how to participate in the rulemaking process. (Attendance at an information session does not count as providing input on the proposed rule; all input must be submitted to the Office of Administrative Hearings at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/gwprhearingnotice.

Fall 2018 – The Office of Administrative Hearings reviews the comments and drafts a report approving, approving in part, or disapproving the proposed rule.

December 2018 – The Department of Agriculture submits the final Groundwater Protection Rule to the Governor for signature.

The Groundwater Protection Rule is part of the state’s overall Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP) which was developed with broad stakeholder input over a five year period and implemented in 2015. More information on the rule and the NFMP is available at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/nfr.

 

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