Lawsuit alleges MPCA failed to enforce standardby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — An environmental group and a lake association are suing the state, claiming the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has failed to enforce water quality standards in Lake Winona.
The Alexandria Lakes Area Sanitary District discharges treated wastewater into the lake, which has been severely polluted with phosphorus for ten years. The latest figures show the phosphorus level in Lake Winona to be about four-times the state standard. Phosphorus causes slime and algae blooms that can harm plants and fish.
The treatment plant is stalling to prevent the state from enforcing the standards, say those with the Lake L'Homme Dieu Association and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. The plant has been violating standards for ten years, said the center's Kevin Reuther.
"We know this treatment facility has to clean up its act, MPCA has known this all along, ever since 2002," Reuther said. "It's been obvious to everybody that this is the source of pollution and they're going to have to do something about it and they have just stalled and stalled and refused."
The MPCA's Shannon Lotthammer says it takes time to study the issues.
"Certainly we want to make sure we're taking the time that's needed to review the science, review the comments, make sure that we consider all those comments very carefully before we move forward with the next step," Lotthammer said.
The state has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.