2022 Performance Report

Message from the General Manager

Portrait of Leisa Thompson

In 2022, the Environmental Services division of the Metropolitan Council set a clear vision for our work: clean water for future generations. All our staff are committed to meeting the water sustainability needs of the Twin Cities metropolitan region, working with our customers and partner organizations.

As we focused on broad challenges like climate change and emerging water contaminants, I witnessed an impressive spirit of holistic innovation and commitment to building a culture of true partnership. We cannot solve the big problems of water management alone, so fostering connection across the region and approaching issues collectively has been essential to building understanding and taking steps to move forward together as a region.

Some of our highlights from 2022:

  • Embedded collaboration in our work: Collaboration is how we deliver every day on our promise to provide service to the region. As we planned upgrades and expansions to our wastewater treatment plants, we hosted open houses to listen and learn from tribal nations about how our work impacts our facility’s neighbors. When the University of Minnesota faced emergencies with the sewer system, we brought our expertise to the collective response, working to address the crisis and resolve the underlying issue. Our COVID-19 surveillance continued to support the growing field of wastewater epidemiology, offering new tools to support public health agencies.
  • Proactively addressed water concerns and future management: Ensuring the safety and cleanliness of the region’s water is one of our top priorities. Our scientists and wastewater treatment plant staff maintained high standards of compliance and safety, including methodically testing the effluent from our nine plants before returning it to the environment. We actively worked towards better understanding and addressing contaminants of concern.
  • Approached water holistically to ensure effectiveness and equity: Our Priority Waters List highlighted the range of significant uses and benefits for our waters. Our research to prepare for the 2050 Water Resources Policy Plan addressed water as it moves from water supply, through wastewater systems, and into surface waters. While we support water sustainability, we identified more ways to address equity and environmental justice, as well as climate impacts.

As we pursue our mission — to partner, plan, and provide services to protect our region’s water — we depend on the involvement of our many stakeholders. From our 111 customer cities, community organizations, and industry peers, to water advocates, facility neighbors, and others, all our partners guide and inform our planning and service delivery. We are here to serve you and the waters of the region.

Learn more about our work and our mission, vision, and values.

Leisa Thompson, general manager

Environmental Services at a glance

Clean water and a clean environment are essential to a healthy life, and our 653 employees are committed to both. We collect and treat wastewater from 111 cities and townships in the Twin Cities metro region, serving approximately 2.8 million people. We also monitor air and water quality, and plan for a long-range water supply to meet future demand.

Wastewater collection and treatment

Whenever someone in the Twin Cities metro area takes a shower, flushes a toilet, or runs a washing machine, the used water is routed to one of our wastewater treatment plants through an extensive network of local and regional sanitary sewer pipes. We own, operate, and maintain the regional wastewater collection and treatment system, which includes:

  • 635 miles of regional sanitary sewers
  • 230 flow meters
  • 60 lift stations
  • 9 wastewater treatment facilities

We also work with approximately 900 industrial users and over 90 liquid waste haulers. In total, our system collects and treats an average of 223 million gallons per day; about 70% of this is processed at the Metropolitan Plant in Saint Paul. The total amount of wastewater we treated in 2022 was approximately 81.4 billion gallons — an amount that could fill the U.S. Bank Stadium every two days.

Water resources planning and protection

By 2040, the Twin Cities region is projected to grow by 500,000 people, changing how we use and conserve our water resources. Protecting, conserving, and using the region’s groundwater and surface water is critical for the region to thrive. This work includes protecting public health, supporting economical growth and development, maintaining habitat and ecosystem health, and providing for recreational opportunities. Clean and plentiful water is essential to our region’s quality of life, and we’re committed to water resources planning and management.

Providing excellent service

Providing excellent service

Our employees monitor water quality in our rivers and streams, test water samples in our laboratory, plan for our future wastewater supply, and much more. In 2022, we replaced 4.2 miles of sewer pipe across the region — the same distance as 185 football fields — to maintain the integrity of the interceptor system and protect the lands and surface water above. By investing in our wastewater treatment plants, regional interceptor systems, and local communities, we help to ensure clean water for years to come.

Partnering with communities

Partnering with communities

Water is an essential resource that transcends community and watershed boundaries. Our surface and groundwaters in the Twin Cities area move between cities, counties, and states. And some projects — from wastewater collection and treatment to regional water planning management activities — are too complex for most communities to handle alone. That’s why Environmental Services exists — and the partnerships we foster are at the heart of everything we do.

Planning for the future

Planning for the future

Environmental Services is continually looking to the future and working holistically to ensure clean water for future generations. Our water resources planning integrates wastewater, water supply, and surface water with the goal of protecting, conserving, and utilizing the region's groundwater and surface water. We ensure that wastewater collection and treatment is competitive for cost and quality, and we invest in our workforce to build and retain a diverse and skilled team.