ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Researchers have begun gathering water samples for a study mandated by the Legislature on what the state’s water quality standards to protect wild rice should be.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area is the first of 30 to 50 wild rice waters that will be sampled over the next month.

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The data will feed into a larger, $1.5 million study into whether the state’s existing limits on discharges of sulfates into wild rice waters should be relaxed, a change sought by mining and other business interests who note the current standards are based on research from the 1940s.

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The MPCA says it’s reviewing public comments on the draft study protocol and expects to name an advisory group for the study early next month.

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