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 is nationally renowned for its superior work treating wastewater, monitoring water and air quality, and planning to ensure a long-range water supply to meet future demand. 

We consistently achieve outstanding compliance with federal and state clean water discharge standards. At the same time, our rates are 41% below the national average for large agencies that treat more than 100 million gallons of wastewater per day. 

We lead on sustainability. In the last decade, our efforts to conserve and recover energy have yielded an annual savings of more than $3.5 million for our customers. 

Plant operator adjusts controls.

Council protects water quality, public health

The Council collects and treats wastewater from 2.6 million residents in the seven-county Twin Cities area. We also conduct research related to surface water quality and water supply, and provide technical assistance to local governments. Among our primary responsibilities: 

  • Maintain more than 600 miles of regional interceptor sewers that collect flow from more than 5,000 miles of local sewers owned by 110 communities. 

  • Process an average of 250 million gallons of wastewater daily at 9 regional treatment plants. 

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

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

  • Conduct research and develop policies and plans related to the region’s water supply. 

  • Partner with numerous public, private and nonprofit groups committed to a clean environment. 
Worker measures water quality in stream.

Council supports regional growth 

Sewer interceptor construction.Our wastewater treatment services protect public health and the environment while supporting regional growth. Guided by the regional long-range plan, Thrive MSP 2040, we ensure 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. 

Maintaining an 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 (28 and 27 years, respectively). 

Service is responsive 

Worker monitors odor at lift station.We work with and for citizens in a number of ways, including partnering on environmental improvement efforts and addressing process-related and industrial odor-control issues. We also reach out to the public with educational programs, public meetings, forums, surveys, and newsletters. 

Council coordinates water supply planning 

Under state law, the Council carries out planning activities that address the water supply needs of the seven-county metro area. The law requires the Council to maintain a base of technical information to assist local governments 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 a Master Water Supply Plan. The plan emphasizes conservation, inter-jurisdictional cooperation and long-term sustainability. The Council last updated the plan in September 2015. 

Council monitors regional water quality

Technician looks at water samples under a microscope.Environmental Services 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.” We monitor and analyze the water quality of the region’s lakes and rivers; partner with public, private and nonprofit groups to improve water quality; and assist 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 

Environmental Services implements an ongoing capital improvement program to maintain and improve the region’s wastewater infrastructure, support regional growth, and meet regulatory requirements. The 2019 capital budget is $156 million. The budget supports projects at the eight treatment plants as well as numerous interceptor, lift station, and meter station construction and rehabilitation projects.

We are reducing energy consumption at our facilities. In the last decade, our efforts to conserve and recover energy have yielded an annual savings of more than $3.5 million for our customers. We 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.