Wastewater treatment performance among top in nation

Date: Monday, November 23, 2020

A person in an orange hard hat with a clipboard.All nine Metropolitan Council Environmental Services wastewater treatment plants were recognized for excellence in operational performance and permit compliance during 2019. In late October, they each received a National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Peak Performance Award.

In total, our nine plants have created a record-breaking collective achievement of 110 consecutive years of 100% compliance with their clean-water discharge permits. Two facilities — the Hastings and St. Croix Valley plants — rank among the top six performers in the country.

This performance is achieved at the same time that residents in the Twin Cities metro area served by the regional wastewater collection and treatment system pay, on average, about 40% less for service than customers served by systems of similar size across the nation.

“This sustained achievement takes day-in and day-out commitment to excellence by countless employees in wide-ranging roles across the division,” said Leisa Thompson, General Manager of the Council’s Environmental Services division. “Our big picture of protecting public health and the environment is executed in the details.”

Essential workers across the division contribute to outstanding compliance

Collectively, wastewater treatment plant staff captured 23,248 effluent (treated wastewater) quality data points to prove we achieve the environmental compliance limits that are measured for the NACWA Award. Staff collected many more samples to build a baseline profile of effluent.

This level of success is made possible through a complex system of people, processes and technology. Some examples of how Environmental Services staff support compliance with clean-water discharge permits:

  • Plan and build our facilities for reliability and ensuring we have capacity to meet flow.

  • Implement computerization for monitoring and alerts to possible issues.

  • Ensure the supports are in place, such as chemicals are delivered on time, power is uninterrupted.

  • Tend to the day-to-day operations and respond to the fluctuating conditions of the incoming wastewater.

  • Provide and maintain the plant infrastructure and equipment, to make sure it does not fail at critical times.

  • Communicate and provide process and planning information for good decision-making.

  • Understand permit requirements and anticipate future changes.

  • Ensure that staff are trained and have the personal protective equipment to do their jobs safely.

  • Work with industries to ensure their discharges are within acceptable limits and identify any major problems that could adversely affect our system.

  • Perform 94,000 laboratory analyses in support of permit and process-control requirements.

Every year NACWA recognizes wastewater treatment facilities across the country with its Peak Performance Award for consecutive years of perfect discharge permit compliance. Our record spans almost three decades and is one of the top three highest in the nation.

Plants earning the Platinum Award (5 or more consecutive years of full compliance)

  • Hastings, 29 years
  • St. Croix Valley, 28 years
  • Blue Lake, 14 years
  • Eagles Point, 14 years
  • Empire, 12 years
  • Metro, 8 years

Gold Award (at least 1 year but less than 5 years of full compliance)

  • East Bethel
  • Seneca
  • Rogers (joint operations with the City of Rogers)

Wastewater treatment at the Met Council

Posted In: Wastewater & Water

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