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 July 2017, six MCES wastewater treatment plants received a Platinum Award for achieving 100% compliance with their operating permits for five consecutive years or longer, through 2016.  

  • The Hastings Plant has achieved 100% compliance for 26 consecutive years. 

  • The St. Croix Valley Plant (Oak Park Heights) has achieved 100% compliance for 25 consecutive years. 

  • The Blue Lake (Shakopee) and Eagles Point (Cottage Grove) plants have both achieved 100% compliance for 11 consecutive years.

  • The  Empire Plant (Empire Township) has achieved 100% compliance for 9 consecutive years.

  • The Metro Plant (Saint Paul) has achieved 100% compliance for 5 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 2017, 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 during the reporting period of October 2015 to September 2016. Earning awards were Blue Lake, Eagles Point, Hastings, Metropolitan, and St. Croix Valley.  

Committed to energy conservation 

photo of two lab workers in white lab coatsTo reduce its carbon footprint and save ratepayers money, MCES reduced its energy purchases by about $4 million per year (2008-2015) through conservation efforts and onsite electrical generation. Onsite generation is achieved through using steam and methane gas to produce electricity.

MCES set a further goal to reduce electrical purchases by 10% between 2015 and 2020. If met, this goal will result in an additional $1 million annual savings in electrical costs. In 2016, MCES completed energy projects that result in a a $250,000 per year savings (about 3.9 megawatts).   

MCES also works to advance renewable energy in the region: 

  • In 2016, a 1.25 MW facility went into operation, saving the Council about $5,000 a year.
  • In 2016 and 2017, the Council entered into several Community Solar Garden agreements. In the first year of operations, participation in these gardens, in aggregate, will save the Council about $50,000. Over the life of the subscription agreements (25 years) the Council will save an estimated $8 million in net present value.

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

  • 2017 Environmental Initiative's Community in Action Award and a Minnesota State Government Innovation Award. The Council played a key role in the Governmental Solar Garden Subscriber Collaborative. The Council led the solicitation of competitive proposals from solar vendors. The collaboration allowed local government the chance to buy solar power collectively, rather than going through the time-consuming procurement process individually. When the first solar gardens came on line in 2016, they were producing 33 megawatts of energy (the equivalent of the annual electrical use of 5,700 homes.
  • 2017 Fresh Water Society's Clean Water Champion Award. MCES shared the award with HDR Engineers and Braun Intertec, for work the partners did to help communities in the metro area reduce or offset their demands on groundwater.
  • 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.
  • 2014 Highest Electric Savings (Cumulative) from Xcel Energy.
  • 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.”