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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

115.03 POWERS AND DUTIES.
    Subdivision 1. Generally. The agency is hereby given and charged with the following
powers and duties:
(a) to administer and enforce all laws relating to the pollution of any of the waters of the state;
(b) to investigate the extent, character, and effect of the pollution of the waters of this state
and to gather data and information necessary or desirable in the administration or enforcement of
pollution laws, and to make such classification of the waters of the state as it may deem advisable;
(c) to establish and alter such reasonable pollution standards for any waters of the state in
relation to the public use to which they are or may be put as it shall deem necessary for the
purposes of this chapter and, with respect to the pollution of waters of the state, chapter 116;
(d) to encourage waste treatment, including advanced waste treatment, instead of stream
low-flow augmentation for dilution purposes to control and prevent pollution;
(e) to adopt, issue, reissue, modify, deny, or revoke, enter into or enforce reasonable orders,
permits, variances, standards, rules, schedules of compliance, and stipulation agreements, under
such conditions as it may prescribe, in order to prevent, control or abate water pollution, or for the
installation or operation of disposal systems or parts thereof, or for other equipment and facilities:
(1) requiring the discontinuance of the discharge of sewage, industrial waste or other wastes
into any waters of the state resulting in pollution in excess of the applicable pollution standard
established under this chapter;
(2) prohibiting or directing the abatement of any discharge of sewage, industrial waste, or
other wastes, into any waters of the state or the deposit thereof or the discharge into any municipal
disposal system where the same is likely to get into any waters of the state in violation of this
chapter and, with respect to the pollution of waters of the state, chapter 116, or standards or rules
promulgated or permits issued pursuant thereto, and specifying the schedule of compliance within
which such prohibition or abatement must be accomplished;
(3) prohibiting the storage of any liquid or solid substance or other pollutant in a manner
which does not reasonably assure proper retention against entry into any waters of the state that
would be likely to pollute any waters of the state;
(4) requiring the construction, installation, maintenance, and operation by any person of any
disposal system or any part thereof, or other equipment and facilities, or the reconstruction,
alteration, or enlargement of its existing disposal system or any part thereof, or the adoption
of other remedial measures to prevent, control or abate any discharge or deposit of sewage,
industrial waste or other wastes by any person;
(5) establishing, and from time to time revising, standards of performance for new sources
taking into consideration, among other things, classes, types, sizes, and categories of sources,
processes, pollution control technology, cost of achieving such effluent reduction, and any
nonwater quality environmental impact and energy requirements. Said standards of performance
for new sources shall encompass those standards for the control of the discharge of pollutants
which reflect the greatest degree of effluent reduction which the agency determines to be
achievable through application of the best available demonstrated control technology, processes,
operating methods, or other alternatives, including, where practicable, a standard permitting
no discharge of pollutants. New sources shall encompass buildings, structures, facilities, or
installations from which there is or may be the discharge of pollutants, the construction of which
is commenced after the publication by the agency of proposed rules prescribing a standard of
performance which will be applicable to such source. Notwithstanding any other provision of the
law of this state, any point source the construction of which is commenced after May 20, 1973,
and which is so constructed as to meet all applicable standards of performance for new sources
shall, consistent with and subject to the provisions of section 306(d) of the Amendments of 1972
to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, not be subject to any more stringent standard of
performance for new sources during a ten-year period beginning on the date of completion of such
construction or during the period of depreciation or amortization of such facility for the purposes
of section 167 or 169, or both, of the Federal Internal Revenue Code of 1954, whichever period
ends first. Construction shall encompass any placement, assembly, or installation of facilities or
equipment, including contractual obligations to purchase such facilities or equipment, at the
premises where such equipment will be used, including preparation work at such premises;
(6) establishing and revising pretreatment standards to prevent or abate the discharge of
any pollutant into any publicly owned disposal system, which pollutant interferes with, passes
through, or otherwise is incompatible with such disposal system;
(7) requiring the owner or operator of any disposal system or any point source to establish
and maintain such records, make such reports, install, use, and maintain such monitoring
equipment or methods, including where appropriate biological monitoring methods, sample such
effluents in accordance with such methods, at such locations, at such intervals, and in such a
manner as the agency shall prescribe, and providing such other information as the agency may
reasonably require;
(8) notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, and with respect to the pollution
of waters of the state, chapter 116, requiring the achievement of more stringent limitations than
otherwise imposed by effluent limitations in order to meet any applicable water quality standard
by establishing new effluent limitations, based upon section 115.01, subdivision 13, clause (b),
including alternative effluent control strategies for any point source or group of point sources
to insure the integrity of water quality classifications, whenever the agency determines that
discharges of pollutants from such point source or sources, with the application of effluent
limitations required to comply with any standard of best available technology, would interfere
with the attainment or maintenance of the water quality classification in a specific portion of the
waters of the state. Prior to establishment of any such effluent limitation, the agency shall hold a
public hearing to determine the relationship of the economic and social costs of achieving such
limitation or limitations, including any economic or social dislocation in the affected community
or communities, to the social and economic benefits to be obtained and to determine whether or
not such effluent limitation can be implemented with available technology or other alternative
control strategies. If a person affected by such limitation demonstrates at such hearing that,
whether or not such technology or other alternative control strategies are available, there is no
reasonable relationship between the economic and social costs and the benefits to be obtained,
such limitation shall not become effective and shall be adjusted as it applies to such person;
(9) modifying, in its discretion, any requirement or limitation based upon best available
technology with respect to any point source for which a permit application is filed after July 1,
1977, upon a showing by the owner or operator of such point source satisfactory to the agency that
such modified requirements will represent the maximum use of technology within the economic
capability of the owner or operator and will result in reasonable further progress toward the
elimination of the discharge of pollutants; and
(10) requiring that applicants for wastewater discharge permits evaluate in their applications
the potential reuses of the discharged wastewater;
(f) to require to be submitted and to approve plans and specifications for disposal systems
or point sources, or any part thereof and to inspect the construction thereof for compliance with
the approved plans and specifications thereof;
(g) to prescribe and alter rules, not inconsistent with law, for the conduct of the agency and
other matters within the scope of the powers granted to and imposed upon it by this chapter and,
with respect to pollution of waters of the state, in chapter 116, provided that every rule affecting
any other department or agency of the state or any person other than a member or employee of the
agency shall be filed with the secretary of state;
(h) to conduct such investigations, issue such notices, public and otherwise, and hold such
hearings as are necessary or which it may deem advisable for the discharge of its duties under this
chapter and, with respect to the pollution of waters of the state, under chapter 116, including,
but not limited to, the issuance of permits, and to authorize any member, employee, or agent
appointed by it to conduct such investigations or, issue such notices and hold such hearings;
(i) for the purpose of water pollution control planning by the state and pursuant to the Federal
Water Pollution Control Act, as amended, to establish and revise planning areas, adopt plans
and programs and continuing planning processes, including, but not limited to, basin plans and
areawide waste treatment management plans, and to provide for the implementation of any such
plans by means of, including, but not limited to, standards, plan elements, procedures for revision,
intergovernmental cooperation, residual treatment process waste controls, and needs inventory
and ranking for construction of disposal systems;
(j) to train water pollution control personnel, and charge such fees therefor as are necessary
to cover the agency's costs. All such fees received shall be paid into the state treasury and credited
to the Pollution Control Agency training account;
(k) to impose as additional conditions in permits to publicly owned disposal systems
appropriate measures to insure compliance by industrial and other users with any pretreatment
standard, including, but not limited to, those related to toxic pollutants, and any system of user
charges ratably as is hereby required under state law or said Federal Water Pollution Control Act,
as amended, or any regulations or guidelines promulgated thereunder;
(l) to set a period not to exceed five years for the duration of any national pollutant discharge
elimination system permit;
(m) to require each governmental subdivision identified as a permittee for a wastewater
treatment works to evaluate in every odd-numbered year the condition of its existing system and
identify future capital improvements that will be needed to attain or maintain compliance with a
national pollutant discharge elimination system or state disposal system permit; and
(n) to train individual sewage treatment system personnel, including persons who design,
construct, install, inspect, service, and operate individual sewage treatment systems, and charge
fees as necessary to pay the agency's costs. All fees received must be paid into the state treasury
and credited to the agency's training account. Money in the account is appropriated to the agency
to pay expenses related to training.
The information required in clause (m) must be submitted in every odd-numbered year to the
commissioner on a form provided by the commissioner. The commissioner shall provide technical
assistance if requested by the governmental subdivision.
The powers and duties given the agency in this subdivision also apply to permits issued
under chapter 114C.
    Subd. 2. Hearing or investigation. In any hearing or investigation conducted pursuant to
this chapter and chapters 114C, 116, and 116F, any employee or agent thereto authorized by the
agency, may administer oaths, examine witnesses and issue, in the name of the agency, subpoenas
requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of evidence relevant to
any matter involved in any such hearing or investigation. Witnesses shall receive the same fees
and mileage as in civil actions.
    Subd. 3. Contempt of court. In case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued
under this section, the district court of the county where the proceeding is pending or in which the
person guilty of such contumacy or refusal to obey is found or resides, shall have jurisdiction upon
application of the agency or its authorized member, employee or agent to issue to such person an
order requiring the person to appear and testify or produce evidence, as the case may require, and
any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by said court as a contempt thereof.
    Subd. 4. Building permits. It is unlawful for any person to issue or grant a building permit
for, or otherwise permit, the construction, enlargement, or relocation of a commercial or industrial
building to be used as the place of employment of more than 12 persons, or any other commercial
or industrial building to house a process producing industrial or other wastes, unless the sewage
or industrial or other waste originating in such buildings is or will be discharged into a disposal
system for which a permit has first been granted by the agency unless the agency has cause not to
apply this requirement, provided that this subdivision shall not apply to building permits issued
for buildings, which have an estimated value of less than $500,000, located or to be located within
an incorporated municipality. After January 1, 1975, such permits shall be acted upon by the
agency within 90 days after submitted, provided that the agency, for good cause, may order said
90 day period to be extended for a reasonable time.
    Subd. 4a. Section 401 certifications. (a) The following definitions apply to this subdivision:
(1) "section 401 certification" means a water quality certification required under section 401
of the federal Clean Water Act, United States Code, title 33, section 1341; and
(2) "nationwide permit" means a nationwide general permit issued by the United States Army
Corps of Engineers and listed in Code of Federal Regulations, title 40, part 330, appendix A.
(b) The agency is responsible for providing section 401 certifications for nationwide permits.
(c) Before making a final decision on a section 401 certification for regional conditions on a
nationwide permit, the agency shall hold at least one public meeting outside the seven-county
metropolitan area.
(d) In addition to other notice required by law, the agency shall provide written notice of a
meeting at which the agency will be considering a section 401 certification for regional conditions
on a nationwide permit at least 21 days before the date of the meeting to the members of the senate
and house of representatives environment and natural resources committees, the senate Agriculture
and Rural Development Committee, and the house of representatives Agriculture Committee.
    Subd. 5. Agency authority; national pollutant discharge elimination system.
Notwithstanding any other provisions prescribed in or pursuant to this chapter and, with respect
to the pollution of waters of the state, in chapter 116, or otherwise, the agency shall have the
authority to perform any and all acts minimally necessary including, but not limited to, the
establishment and application of standards, procedures, rules, orders, variances, stipulation
agreements, schedules of compliance, and permit conditions, consistent with and, therefore
not less stringent than the provisions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended,
applicable to the participation by the state of Minnesota in the national pollutant discharge
elimination system (NPDES); provided that this provision shall not be construed as a limitation
on any powers or duties otherwise residing with the agency pursuant to any provision of law.
    Subd. 5a. Public notice for national pollutant discharge elimination system permit
application. The commissioner must give public notice of a completed national pollutant
discharge elimination system permit application for new municipal discharges in the official
county newspaper of the county where the discharge is proposed.
    Subd. 5b. Storm water permits; compliance with nondegradation and mitigation
requirements. (a) During the period in which this subdivision is in effect, all point source storm
water discharges that are subject to and in compliance with an individual or general storm water
permit issued by the Pollution Control Agency under the national pollution discharge elimination
system are considered to be in compliance with the nondegradation and mitigation requirements
of agency water quality rules.
(b) This subdivision is repealed on the earlier of July 1, 2007, or the effective date of
rules adopted by the Pollution Control Agency that provide specific mechanisms or criteria to
determine whether point source storm water discharges comply with the nondegradation and
mitigation requirements of agency water quality rules.
    Subd. 5c. Regulation of storm water discharges. (a) The agency may issue a general
permit to any category or subcategory of point source storm water discharges that it deems
administratively reasonable and efficient without making any findings under agency rules.
Nothing in this subdivision precludes the agency from requiring an individual permit for a point
source storm water discharge if the agency finds that it is appropriate under applicable legal or
regulatory standards.
(b) Pursuant to this paragraph, the legislature authorizes the agency to adopt and enforce
rules regulating point source storm water discharges. No further legislative approval is required
under any other legal or statutory provision whether enacted before or after May 29, 2003.
    Subd. 6. Certification statement; pollution control equipment loan. (a) In addition to
its other powers and duties, the agency shall prepare the certification statement required to be
submitted by an applicant for a pollution control equipment loan under the provisions of section
7(g) of the Small Business Act and section 8 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as
amended.
(b) The agency certification shall state whether the loan applicant's proposed additions to,
or alterations in, equipment facilities or methods of operation are necessary and adequate to
comply with the requirements established under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as
amended. The agency's certification statement shall comply with the requirements of Code of
Federal Regulations, title 40, part 21.
(c) The agency may identify small businesses eligible for loans under section 7(g) of the
Small Business Act and section 8 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended and
assist in the preparation of loan application.
(d) No fee shall be required of an applicant for any assistance provided under this subdivision.
    Subd. 7. Pollution control facility revenue bonds. In addition to its other powers and duties,
the agency shall disseminate information and provide assistance regarding the small business
administration program to guarantee payments or rentals on pollution control facility revenue
bonds pursuant to Public Law 94-305 (June 4, 1976). The agency shall also encourage and assist
governmental units to coordinate the joint or cooperative issuance of bonds guaranteed under this
program to the end that the total amount of the bonds is sufficient in size to allow convenient sale.
    Subd. 8. Exemptions for aboveground storage tanks. The commissioner may not adopt
rules under this section that regulate the use of the following aboveground storage tanks:
(1) farm or residential tanks of 1,100 gallons or less capacity used for storing motor fuel for
noncommercial purposes;
(2) tanks of 1,100 gallons or less capacity used for storing heating oil for consumptive
use on the premises where stored;
(3) tanks used for storing liquids that are gaseous at atmospheric temperature and pressure; or
(4) tanks used for storing agricultural chemicals regulated under chapter 18B, 18C, or 18D.
    Subd. 8a. Permit duration for major aboveground storage facilities. Agency permits for
major aboveground storage facilities may be issued for a term of up to ten years.
    Subd. 9. Future costs of wastewater treatment; update of 1995 report. The commissioner
shall, by January 15, 1998, and each even-numbered year thereafter, provide the chairs of the
house and senate committees with primary jurisdiction over the agency's budget with the
following information:
(1) an updated list of all wastewater treatment upgrade and construction projects the agency
has identified to meet existing and proposed water quality standards and regulations;
(2) an estimate of the total costs associated with the projects listed in clause (1), and the
projects' priority ranking under Minnesota Rules, chapter 7077. The costs of projects necessary
to meet existing standards must be identified separately from the costs of projects necessary to
meet proposed standards;
(3) the commissioner's best estimate, developed in consultation with the commissioner of
employment and economic development and affected permittees, of the increase in sewer service
rates to the residents in the municipalities required to construct the projects listed in clause (1)
resulting from the cost of these projects; and
(4) a list of existing and proposed state water quality standards which are more stringent than
is necessary to comply with federal law, either because the standard has no applicable federal
water quality criteria, or because the standard is more stringent than the applicable federal water
quality criteria.
    Subd. 10. Nutrient loading offset. (a) Prior to the completion of a total maximum daily
load for an impaired water, the Pollution Control Agency may issue a permit for a new discharger
or an expanding discharger if it results in decreased loading to an impaired water. Where a new
discharger or an expanding existing discharger cannot effectively implement zero discharge
options, the agency may issue a permit if the increased loading is offset by reductions from
other sources of loading to the impaired water, so that there is a net decrease in the pollutant
loading of concern. The term "new discharger" is as defined in Code of Federal Regulations,
title 40, section 122.2.
(b) The legislature intends this subdivision to confirm and clarify the authority of the
Pollution Control Agency to issue the authorized permits under prior law. The subdivision must
not be construed as a legislative interpretation within the meaning of section 645.16, clause (8),
or otherwise as the legislature's intent that the agency did not have authority to issue such a
permit under prior law.
History: 1945 c 395 s 3; 1969 c 9 s 21; 1969 c 931 s 6; 1973 c 374 s 7-9; 1973 c 412 s 12;
1976 c 76 s 1; 1979 c 147 s 1; 1984 c 597 s 41; 1985 c 248 s 70; 1Sp1985 c 13 s 229; 1986 c 444;
1987 c 186 s 15; 1989 c 335 art 1 s 127; art 4 s 33; 1992 c 601 s 2; 1993 c 87 s 1; 1993 c 186
s 8; 1996 c 437 s 9,10; 1996 c 462 s 38; 1997 c 216 s 93; 2000 c 370 s 1; 1Sp2001 c 2 s 120;
2003 c 128 art 1 s 120,121; 1Sp2003 c 4 s 1; 2006 c 251 s 10