The current Wild Rice Standard can be found in Minnesota Rules.:
Minnesota Administrative Rules
7050.0224 SPECIFIC WATER QUALITY STANDARDS FOR CLASS 4 WATERS OF THE STATE; AGRICULTURE AND WILDLIFE.
The numeric and narrative water quality standards in this part prescribe the qualities or properties of the waters of the state that are necessary for the agriculture and wildlife designated public uses and benefits. Wild rice is an aquatic plant resource found in certain waters within the state. The harvest and use of grains from this plant serve as a food source for wildlife and humans. In recognition of the ecological importance of this resource, and in conjunction with Minnesota Indian tribes, selected wild rice waters have been specifically identified [WR] and listed in part 7050.0470, subpart 1. The quality of these waters and the aquatic habitat necessary to support the propagation and maintenance of wild rice plant species must not be materially impaired or degraded. If the standards in this part are exceeded in waters of the state that have the Class 4 designation, it is considered indicative of a polluted condition which is actually or potentially deleterious, harmful, detrimental, or injurious with respect to the designated uses.
Class 4A waters.
The quality of Class 4A waters of the state shall be such as to permit their use for irrigation without significant damage or adverse effects upon any crops or vegetation usually grown in the waters or area, including truck garden crops. The following standards shall be used as a guide in determining the suitability of the waters for such uses, together with the recommendations contained in Handbook 60 published by the Salinity Laboratory of the United States Department of Agriculture, and any revisions, amendments, or supplements to it:
Sulfates (SO4): 10 mg/L, applicable to water used for production of wild rice during periods when the rice may be susceptible to damage from high sulfate levels.
Under part 7050.0470, CLASSIFICATIONS FOR SURFACE WATERS IN MAJOR DRAINAGE BASINS, the Wild Rice Standard is applicable to specific wild rice waters, all of which are located in the Lake Superior Basin.
These include: St. Louis River, Artichoke Lake, Bluebill Lake, Breda Lake, Cabin Lake, Caribou Lake, Christine Lake, Fourmile Lake, Hay Lake, Lieung (Lieuna) Lake, Long Lake, Marsh Lake, Moore Lake, Northern Light Lake, Papoose Lake, Rice Lake, Round Island Lake, Round Lake, Seven Beaver Lake, Stone Lake, Stone Lake (Skibo Lake), Stone Lake (Murphy Lake or Tommila Lake), Swamp River (Reservoir), White Pine Lake.
The current Wild Rice Standard was set in the 1973 and was based on the research of John Moyle, a DNR scientist. In 1944. Moyle’s analysis of wild rice was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. Moyle wrote: “No large stands of rice occur in waters having a SO4 content greater than 10 mg/L, and rice generally is absent from water with more than 50 mg/L."
In March, 2011, a House bill (H.F. 1010) was introduced for the MCPA to study the impact of sulfide on manoomin. A provision in the bill called for the temporary standard to be set at 250 mg/L while the study was conducted. However, the provision was modified to 50 mg/L. The House provision that was passed now reads:
Sec. 19. WILD RICE WATER QUALITY STANDARD.
Notwithstanding Minnesota Rules, part 7050.0224, subpart 2, the water quality standard for sulfates in Class 4A waters is 50 milligrams per liter, applicable to water used for production of wild rice during periods when the rice may be susceptible to damage by high sulfate levels. This standard is effective until the new standard developed through the rulemaking required under section 14 goes into effect.
EFFECTIVE DATE. This section is effective the day following final enactment.
The Senate’s bill (S.F. 1029) features essentially the same language. However, unlike the House bill, the Wild Rice Quality Standard is not a separate provision. Rather, it is contained within the Senate’s bill in the last two sentences of Wild Rice Rulemaking and Research: “Until the final rules are completed, the PCA shall suspend the standard for sulfate in class 4 waters. This is from S.F. No. 732 (Bakk), as amended in committee.”
Baak, it should be noted, is Sen. Tom Baak, who with Rep. Tom Rukavina, was successful in passing an interim Wild Rice Standard set at 50 mg/L.
In summary, should the current legislation pass, the current Wild Rice Water Quality Standard of 10 mg/L will be suspended and replaced by a "temporary" standard of 50 mg/L (not 250 mg/L) while the two-year study by MPCA is conducted and completed.
Which raises the question – why are they so damn sure that the MPCA study will recommend raising the standard in two years? What is it they know that we don’t know?
(Link below provides the official summaries for H.F. 1010 and S.F. 1029)