Public hearing Aug. 30 on adding solids processing capacity at the Metro Plant

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2018
The Metropolitan Council will hold a public hearing in late August to take formal comments on a large capital improvement project at the Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant on the Mississippi River in Saint Paul.

The 4th incinerator will provide processing capacity during maintenance and serve the growing population.Currently, three incinerators process solids removed from wastewater at the region’s largest treatment plant, but the facility needs more solids processing capacity to serve population growth and allow for renewal of the existing incinerators. The Council is proposing to add a fourth incinerator.

A fourth incinerator would provide solids processing capacity during the extended downtime needed to renew each of the three existing incinerators, which are nearing 15 years old. And it would meet the wastewater treatment needs of an additional 500,000 residents expected in the plant’s service area by 2050.

“The Metro Plant opened in 1938 and we call it the ‘workhorse’ of the region’s wastewater treatment system for good reason,” said Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “The Metro Plant treats most of the region’s wastewater—180 million gallons per day—including solids processing. But to continue that work, we need more capacity and reliability to process solids.”

Adding a fourth incinerator is cost-effective, low-impact, sustainable option

The fourth incinerator is the most cost-effective and sustainable alternative to meet the region’s wastewater treatment needs. It will have the lowest community impact and will improve the reliability of the regional wastewater treatment system. The incinerators all include equipment to recover energy to help heat and power the plant and to control air pollution. The fourth incinerator would:

  • Cost about half of what other solids processing alternatives cost to construct, build and maintain.

  • Minimize odor, air quality, trucking, and offsite land impacts on surrounding communities.

  • Recover enough energy to save $2.5 million per year in electricity and natural gas purchases that otherwise would be passed on to customers in the form of wastewater fees.

  • Increase the reliability of the region’s wastewater treatment system by serving as a backup to other Council wastewater facilities.

  • Protect the region’s air quality and continue the plant’s exceptional track record on environmental compliance by restricting air emissions to levels that are well below federal permit standards set in 2010 for new incinerators.

The Metro Plant is located three miles southeast of downtown Saint Paul.  It treats 180 million gallons of wastewater every day for 66 communities and processes 850 wet tons of solids every day for 73 communities. 

See videos about the project.

Investment helps keep wastewater system running effectively

The Metro Plant treats 180 million gallons of wastewater every day for 66 communities (green area on map) and processes 850 wet tons of solids every day for 73 communities.Increasing solids-processing capacity at the plant is part of the Council’s long-term capital improvement program that is investing in the preservation, structural integrity, and reliability of the regional system.

The Council has set a public hearing for Thursday, Aug. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wellstone Center, 179 Robie St., Saint Paul. The Council will continue to participate in additional public engagement before considering adoption of the facility plan for the wastewater solids processing improvements in late September.

Throughout this spring and summer, Council staff have met with environmental and neighborhood organizations, local and county government officials, and regulatory agencies seeking feedback on the proposed project.

Construction on the fourth incinerator would occur from 2021 to 2024, with renewal on the existing incinerators from 2025 to 2027. The total cost of the project is estimated at $180 million.

More information on the Metro Plant Solids Management Facility Plan.

Wastewater is conveyed to the regional system of pipes and plants via about 5,000 miles of sewers that local communities own and maintain.

The regional wastewater system includes eight treatment plants, 600 miles of regional sanitary sewers, and metering and lift stations that do the work of protecting public health and the environment.

The Metropolitan Council owns and operates the system, which collects and treats about 250 million gallons of wastewater a day from 109 metro-area communities.  Council officials estimate the value of the region’s wastewater system investment at $7 billion.

Posted In: Planning, Wastewater & Water

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