The Metropolitan Council took steps on Dec. 12 to advance a proposed wastewater reuse project in the southeast metro. The Council approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and a design deposit agreement with Enerkem, Inc., a Canadian-based firm, whereby the Council will provide reclaimed water to Enerkem’s proposed waste-to-biofuels facility in Dakota County.
Reclaimed water is wastewater treatment plant effluent that has received additional treatment to make it suitable for specific reuse applications.
The nonbinding MOU establishes how Enerkem will pay for the design, construction and operation of the Council’s proposed Southeast Metro Water Reclamation Facility in Rosemount. It defines key terms for a future binding service agreement and establishes that the facility plan approved by the Council in June 2018 will be the basis for preliminary design.
The binding design agreement obligates Enerkem to pay, via a deposit of $600,000, the cost of preliminary design for the Council’s proposed reclaimed water facility. The reclaimed water would be piped to the proposed Enerkem plant in Inver Grove Heights.
“Using reclaimed water for non-potable purposes helps conserve groundwater for drinking water purposes and allows the region to continue to grow,” said Leisa Thompson, General Manager of the Council’s Environmental Services division. “It’s also an effective way to use the investments we’ve already made in wastewater treatment facilities in the southeast metro.”
Grant could cover half the cost of preliminary design
In related action, the Council approved staff to negotiate and execute a wastewater reuse grant agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), which would cover half the maximum $600,000 cost of preliminary design. The grant would be used to reimburse Enerkem for half of its design deposit.
In 2017, the legislature appropriated $300,000 to the MPCA for design or construction of wastewater infrastructure for waste-to-biofuel development. The grant must be used by June 30, 2019.
The Southeast Metro Water Reclamation Facility would be located at the site of the Council’s former Rosemount Wastewater Treatment Plant at 4005 140th St. East. It would provide an estimated 1.6 million gallons of reclaimed water to Enerkem each day.
The project also includes a Council-owned distribution pipe to the 117th Street industrial area in Inver Grove Heights where the potential Enerkem facility would be located. The MPCA granted preliminary approval of the facility plan in September.
“We would not be pursuing a project like this without the support of local municipalities,” Thompson said. “Our policies are clear that any proposals for reclaimed water use have to be compatible with local comprehensive land-use plans.”
City cites potential economic development benefits
“We’re excited about the economic development benefits that this potential project would bring, including 150 jobs and the ancillary economic activity of those workers,” said Joe Lynch, City Administrator for Inver Grove Heights. “We also think that the conversion of solid waste into a usable product could be a potential solution for the need to landfill solid waste.
“In addition, the reuse of wastewater is not something we could offer, and future industrial development in the same area could benefit from the reused wastewater, too,” he added.
Facility could be in operation by the end of 2021
The Council proposes to complete preliminary design by June 2019. If Enerkem moves forward with its plans, a tentative project schedule calls for detailed design of Council facilities to be completed by the end of 2019, with construction following in 2020-2021. The facility could be commissioned and started up by the end of 2021.