Environmental Services Facts

A national leader in environmental protection

Clean water and a clean environment are essential to a healthy life, and the Metropolitan Council is committed to both. Our Environmental Services division (MCES) is nationally renowned for its superior work treating wastewater, monitoring air and water quality, and planning to ensure a long-range water supply to meet future demand. 

MCES consistently achieves outstanding compliance with federal and state clean water discharge standards. At the same time, our rates are well below the national average for large agencies that treat more than 100 million gallons of wastewater per day. 

MCES is a leader in sustainability. In the last decade, efforts to conserve and recover energy have yielded an annual savings of more than $3.5 million for our customers. 

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Council protects water quality, public health

MCES is responsible for collecting and treating wastewater from 2.6 million residents in the seven-county Twin Cities area. MCES also conducts research related to surface water quality and water supply, and provides technical assistance to local governments. 

Among its primary responsibilities, MCES: 

  • Maintains more than 600 miles of regional interceptor sewers that collect flow from more than 5,000 miles of sewers owned by 109 communities. 

  • Processes an average of 250 million gallons of wastewater daily at 8 regional treatment plants. 

  • Works with about 850 industrial clients to substantially reduce the amount of pollution entering the wastewater collection system. 

  • Provides surface water quality monitoring and analysis for the region. 

  • Conducts research and develops policies and plans related to the region’s water supply. 

  • Partners with numerous public, private and nonprofit groups committed to a clean environment. 

Council supports regional growth 

MCES services protect public health and the environment while supporting regional growth. Guided by the Council’s long-range plan, Thrive MSP 2040, MCES ensures that: 

  • Sufficient sewer capacity exists to serve planned development. 

  • Sufficient capital investments are made to preserve water quality in the region. 

  • Wastewater collection and treatment is competitive for cost and quality. 

  • Local plans provide for adequate water supply and prevention of pollution from nonpoint sources, such as urban and agricultural stormwater runoff. 

MCES maintains outstanding environmental record 

The Council's wastewater treatment plants continue to perform at a high level, achieving outstanding compliance with federal and state clean water discharge permits. Two plantsHastings and St. Croix Valleyare among the top eight plants in the country for consecutive years of full compliance with their permits (27 and 26 years, respectively). 

Service is responsive 

MCES works with and for citizens in a number of ways, including partnering on environmental improvement efforts and addressing process-related and industrial odor-control issues. Staff also reach out to the public with educational programs, public meetings, forums, surveys, and newsletters. 

Council coordinates water supply planning 

In 2005, the Minnephoto of two workers in white lab coatssota Legislature directed the Council to carry out planning activities addressing the water supply needs of the seven-county metro area. The law requires the Council to maintain a base of technical information upon which to make sound decisions about water supply issues, and to develop a regional master plan for water supply. 

After years of study and regional input, and with assistance from state and local officials on the Metropolitan Area Water Supply Advisory Committee, the Council developed its first Master Water Supply Plan in 2010. The plan emphasizes conservation, inter-jurisdictional cooperation and long-term sustainability. The Council adopted an updated Master Water Supply Plan in September 2015. 

Council monitors regional water quality

MCES implements a variety of strategies to meet its mission of “providing wastewater services and integrated planning to ensure sustainable water quality and water supply for the region.” MCES monitors and analyzes the water quality of the region’s lakes and rivers; partners with public, private and nonprofit groups to improve water quality; and assists with watershed planning and management.
The division’s work is guided by the 2040 Water Resources Policy Plan, a chapter of the Metropolitan Development Guide (of which Thrive MSP 2040 is the foundation). The updated policy plan embraces an integrated approach to water supply, water quality, and wastewater treatment; it also emphasizes collaboration with local government, state, and other partners.

Long-range plans include significant energy savings 

MCES implements an ongoing capital improvement program to maintain and improve the region’s wastewater infrastructure, support regional growth, and meet regulatory requirements. The 2018 capital expense budget is $173 million. The budget supports projects at the eight treatment plants as well as numerous interceptor, lift station, and meter station construction and rehabilitation projects.

MCES is working hard to reduce energy consumption at its facilities. In the last decade, efforts to conserve and recover energy have yielded an annual savings of more than $3.5 million for our customers. By 2020, we anticipate reducing our energy purchases by another $1 million annually. We also have more than 17 megawatts of solar energy under contract. In 2018, we began a new partnership with Xcel Energy to make all of our electricity purchases 100% renewable by 2040.