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MPCA appeals Osakis phosphorus case to Minnesota Supreme Court

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is pursuing an appeal to the Supreme Court after the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the City of Osakis.

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Lowell Anderson | Echo Press
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OSAKIS — In March, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued a decision that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency made legal errors and lacked substantial evidence to enforce a permit limit on the City of Osakis’ wastewater treatment facility.

On June 1, the MPCA filed a petition for review with the Minnesota Supreme Court, hoping to reverse the decision from the Court of Appeals.

Osakis city leaders are disappointed that the case is continuing.

In a news release, Osakis Mayor Daniel Wessel said, “We have attempted to resolve this matter with the MPCA for years without litigation, but the MPCA continues to insist they are in the right. We are extremely disappointed we could not put this matter behind us after the Court of Appeals’ decision. We will continue to fight for our residents and businesses, who will bear the financial burden if we are forced to upgrade our treatment facility to comply with what the Court of Appeals found was an unsupported permit limit.”

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Dan Wessel

The Supreme Court has discretion to grant or deny the MPCA’s petition for review. If the Supreme Court denies the MPCA’s petition for review, the previous Court of Appeals decision will stand. If the Supreme Court grants MPCA’s petition, the case will proceed over the next several months.

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“It is unfortunate that the MPCA elected to appeal, rather than work collaboratively with the city to resolve this matter, but we will continue to advocate for Osakis to ensure the MPCA applies their regulations properly and treats the city fairly,” said the city’s attorney Daniel Marx.

In a previous Echo Press story, Darin Broton, director of communications for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said that the Court of Appeals’ decision does not dispute that Lake Osakis is impaired with excessive nutrients.

"Phosphorus pollution in Lake Osakis and downstream Minnesota waters puts human health at risk and adversely impacts the economic vitality of our communities," Broton said in a statement about the court ruling. "While the MPCA will determine its next steps in the coming weeks, the agency stands by its commitment to taking a holistic approach of working with community partners to protect Minnesota’s waters.”

The full petition can be read here .

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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