Wastewater reuse is the practice of treating and reusing wastewater treatment plant effluent for beneficial use before releasing it back into the water cycle. This highly treated wastewater, called reclaimed water, must meet water quality guidelines established by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) before it can be used.
It is a goal of Thrive MSP 2040, the Council’s guiding framework, to pursue wastewater reuse where economically feasible to promote sustainable water resources. Reuse can be a cost effective solution for industrial or growing areas, or when there may be barriers to accessing groundwater. The Council's Water Resources Policy Plan states that in all its activities, including wastewater reuse, MCES must work with its partners, maximize regional benefits from regional investments, and provide efficient, high quality wastewater services. Per the Council's legislative authority, MCES does not provide water service.
In 2017, the Council authorized a Wastewater Reuse Policy Task Force to develop recommendations for the Council, which were presented at a public hearing in April 2018. On May 9, 2018, the Metropolitan Council approved amendments to the Water Resources Policy Plan (Business Item 2018-109).
Features of the amendment include:
- Establishing a wastewater reuse pilot program
- Emphasizing the need for cooperation with local communities and water suppliers
- Implementing an actual cost-of-service basis, not a single rate, for reclaimed water service
- Encouraging pursuit of non-Council funding for reuse projects
- Requiring long-term reclaimed water service agreement with users
- Reporting at annual budget meetings
- Establishing criteria for a regional cost share for wastewater resuse projects based on regional wastewater system benefit, including a cap on the allowable cumulative amount of regional cost shares (approximately $1.65 million/year)
Treated effluent use at wastewater treatment plants
At most of MCES' wastewater treatment plants, treated effluent, which meets the plants' permits but does not meet MPCA's guidance for reclaimed water, is used for various plant activities. For example, treated effluent is used for cooling water in the solids incineration process at the Metro and Seneca Treatment Plants. Many plants use treated effluent for activities such as tank cleaning and to keep pumps from overheating.
Transitioning from treated effluent use and groundwater use to reclaimed water use at the Metro Plant
At the Metro Plant, MCES is designing facilities to further treat effluent to meet the MPCA’s reclaimed water guidance level. This reclaimed water will then take the place of the treated effluent and groundwater used now for many plant uses. Using reclaimed water will provide a higher level of worker health protection than the plant effluent and reduce groundwater use by over one million gallons a day.
East Bethel Water Reclamation Facility
The East Bethel Water Reclamation Facility treats 40,000 gallons of wastewater per day to MPCA’s highest level for wastewater reuse. This reclaimed water is pumped to one of two rapid infiltration basins, where it filters through a surficial sand aquifer and ultimately flows to Crooked Brook. More information can be found on the East Bethel fact sheet (PDF).
Other potential project
A potential wastewater reuse project is the Southeast Metro Water Reclamation Facilities project, to treat Empire Plant effluent to be reused by the city of Rosemount. More information about this potential project can be found in the Facility Plan for the proposed Southeast Metro Water Reclamation Facility (PDF).
Please contact Deborah Manning at Deborah.Manning@metc.state.mn.us or at 651-602-1114.