MCES Awards Facts

Clean water and a clean environment are essential to a healthy life and a healthy community, 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 for a long-range water supply to meet future demand. 

MCES provides high-quality, cost-efficient service that protects public health and the environment. It consistently achieves near-perfect compliance with federal and state clean water discharge standards while holding metro-wide average wholesale customer rates to 40% below the national average. 

MCES receives state and national awards for its excellence in many disciplines. All of the awards listed here have been presented in the past 10 years. 

photo of a man at an Environmental Services facility

Year after year, 99.9% compliance or better

photo of two men at an Environmental Services facilityNational Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) 
Among MCES’s many awards, perhaps none are more respected than those given for operational excellence by NACWA. In June 2016, six MCES wastewater treatment plants received a Platinum Award  for achieving 100% compliance with their operating permits for five consecutive years or longer, through 2015.  

  • The Hastings Plant has achieved 100% compliance for 25 consecutive years. 

  • The St. Croix Valley Plant (Oak Park Heights) has achieved 100% compliance for 24 consecutive years. 

  • The Seneca Plant (Eagan) has achieved 100% compliance for 15 consecutive years. 

  • The Blue Lake (Shakopee) and Eagles Point (Cottage Grove) plants have both achieved 100% compliance for 10 consecutive years. 

  • The Empire Plant (Empire Township) has achieved 100% compliance for 8 consecutive years. 

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) 
At the state level, MCES treatment plants routinely collect the MPCA’s top award – the Certificate of Commendation – for perfect compliance with operating permits over a 12-month reporting period. This compliance rate is measured with more than 20,000 reporting points per year, including daily, weekly and annual limits. 

  • In March 2016, all MCES treatment plants discharging treated wastewater to area rivers received MPCA’s Certificate of Commendation for operational excellence and perfect compliance with their operating permits. Earning awards were Blue Lake, Eagles Point, Empire, Hastings, Metropolitan, Seneca, and St. Croix Valley. 

  • In every year from 2005-2016, at least six and usually all of MCES’s seven treatment plants that discharge effluent into area rivers earned the award for perfect compliance. 

Committed to energy conservation 

photo of two lab workers in white lab coatsTo ward off increasing energy costs, MCES launched a systemwide energy-savings campaign in 2006. By the end of 2015, MCES had reduced its purchases of fossil-fuel energy by 23.6% from 2006. The reduction is now saving ratepayers more than $4 million per year in energy-related costs and more than 11 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

Xcel Energy has recognized MCES's accomplishments with the following recent awards:

  • 2014 Highest Electric Savings (Cumulative) from Excel Energy.
  • 2014 Energy Efficiency Award from Xcel Energy for Large, Commercial and Industrial Customers.
  • 2013 Energy Efficiency Award from Xcel Energy for Large, Commercial and Industrial Customers.
  • 2011 Gold Award from Xcel for the most electrical conservation in an 18-month period.
  • 2009 & 2010 Efficiency Partner Awards from Xcel for ongoing energy savings.

MCES regularly receives national and state awards for aspects of its work beyond wastewater collection and treatment: 

  • 2016 Utility of the Future Today. The designation from a partnership of national organizations recognizes MCES's commitment and achievements in resource efficiency and recovery, energy efficiency and generation, proactive relationships with stakeholders, and role in creating resilient, sustainable and livable communities. The U.S. EPA, Water Environmental Federation, and NACWA partner to award the designation.
  • 2015 Freshwater Society's Clean Water Champion Award. For the Saint Paul Saints stadium, CHS Field, rainwater harvesting project.
  • 2012 Governor’s Continuous Improvement Award. For the Council’s “Energy Saving Initiative” that reduced energy costs for wastewater collection and treatment by $3.8 million annually.
  • 2012 Excellence in Management Gold Recognition. Honoring MCES’s commitment to sustainable, successful programs that exemplify an effectively managed utility. 

  • 2012 Communication Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects – Minnesota. For the Council’s “Stormwater Reuse Guide.” 

  • 2010 National Environmental Achievement Award from NACWA. For MCES’s public education video, “Protecting Water Resources for the Region.” 

  • 2009 National Environmental Achievement Award from NACWA. For operations and environmental performance for MCES’s Infiltration & Inflow Program.