May 20, 2020

Minnesota Wastewater Treatment Plant Plans Advance

The Worthington Public Utilities Water & Light Commission is discussing plans to replace the city’s wastewater treatment facility

sewage pipe

The Worthington Public Utilities Water & Light Commission conducted its first public hearing via Zoom to discuss plans to replace the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

The commission received a detailed report on the plans in April, according to the Globe. The aim is for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to provide preliminary approval of the facility plan by the end of June. 

The construction on the estimated $20.5 million facility is expected to begin in the spring or summer of 2021, added the Globe. Construction will take two years to complete. The facility was originally constructed in 1962, having gone through three renovation projects.

According to Kris Swanson, principal engineer with Bolton and Menk, the city’s wastewater treatment plant has aging infrastructure. Two options were considered by Swanson’s firm: rehabilitating the existing structures with the construction of a new biological treatment facility or constructing a new suspended growth biological treatment system, according to the Globe.

Ultimately, Swanson and WPU General Manager Scott Hain want to embark on new construction, since the current concrete silos are already at the end of their useful life.

The project will include a new biological treatment for wastewater that removes phosphorus and other harmful nutrients from wastewater before it is discharged, according to the Globe.

The average monthly rate for homeowners, $31, would increase by roughly $20 per month. This coat comes with the assumption that WPU will not use any of its reserve funds or receive grant funding for the project.

The wastewater plant will apply for a Point Source Implementation Grant, which, based on lower phosphorus limits, could qualify the city for up to 80% coverage of eligible costs up to $7 million. The plant could also obtain a low interest loan from Minnesota’s Clean Water Revolving Fund.

It has not been decided if the new facility will be built north or east of the existing plant, since both parcels are city-owned and building to the north would allow for less piping, according to Swanson. Construction isn’t feasible on the existing site because the wastewater treatment plant needs to continue to function during the construction process, but there is a plan to demolish some of the existing elements of the plant when the new construction is completed.

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