Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant Land Application Program

Corn plants in a field.
Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES), operator of the metro-area wastewater collection and treatment system, produces biosolids from wastewater that can be used by local farmers to improve soil health and promote plant growth. Land application services are free to farmers enrolled in the program.

What are biosolids?

Biosolids are a renewable resource made of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other key nutrients that help farmers manage and improve soil health, protect water quality, and conserve water.

Land application of biosolids occurs twice a year: in the spring before planting and in the fall after harvest.

Quality standards and best management practices, established and overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), are protective of public health and the environment. Biosolids are tested before land application to confirm quality standards are met. The MPCA reviews land application activities annually to confirm best management practices are followed.

Communities served by the Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant

  • Empire Township
  • Farmington
  • Rosemount
  • Elko New Market
  • Portions of Apple Valley
  • Portions of Lakeville

Empire Wastewater Treatment

Plant

Aerial view of Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant

Biosolids produced at the plant


Rows of biosolids

Transport




Trucks driving

 

Farmers




Crops

 

Treated water returned to the Mississippi River

Mississippi River

 

Benefits

The Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant Land Application Program provides many benefits for the region, local townships, farmers, and the environment:

  • Decreases reliance on commercial fertilizer
  • Improves crop resiliency to drought
  • Contributes to healthy water and soils
  • Keeps wastewater rates competitive
  • Fosters sustainable operations due to proximity to agricultural fields

Impacts

MCES is committed to providing a high level of customer service and will strive to manage the following potential impacts:

  • Odors
  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Traffic
  • Road wear and tear

Program resources

Land Application Program 819 kB

Long-Term Stewards Together 446 kB

PFAS Fact Sheet 625 kB

Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant 2.2 MB

Biosolids FAQ

Biosolids are a natural, cost-effective alternative to commercial fertilizers that also add organic matter to soil. Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other key nutrients fertilize crops and help farmers improve soil health. Biosolids reduce the need for commercial fertilizers and help farmers manage crop nutrients to operate more sustainably.
The Empire plant serves the communities of Empire Township, Farmington, Rosemount, Elko New Market, and portions of Apple Valley and Lakeville. Additionally, septage haulers bring septage from septic systems in rural areas to the Empire plant for treatment.
Biosolids are used by farmers growing feed crops for animal consumption like corn and soy beans.
Biosolids are a natural, renewable resource produced by wastewater treatment plants that should be recycled. Biosolids production generates biogas, a renewable fuel source used to produce heat and electricity at the Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Biosolids management practices protect drinking water sources by defining the soil quality, depth to groundwater, and distance from surface waters where land application can occur. Land application is overseen by a Type IV operator trained and certified by the MPCA. Land application activities are monitored and audited by the MPCA.
Land application at the Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant benefits local communities by providing local farmers with a cost-effective alternative to commercial fertilizers and by keeping wastewater rates competitive.
Biogas is created during biosolids production. Biogas is a renewable energy used to generate heat and power for the Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The Environmental Protection Agency categorizes biosolids as Class A, Class A EQ (Exceptional Quality), and Class B. Class A biosolids can be land applied without site limitation. Class B biosolids produced at the Empire Plant can be applied to MPCA permitted sites by following the MPCA's best management practices.
Every wastewater treatment plant produces wastewater solids. Due to the close proximity of agricultural farm fields, land application is the most cost-effective and sustainable solids management alternative for the Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Biosolids produced at the Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant are delivered at no cost to local farm fields. Beneficial elements in biosolids improve soil health, increase crop yield, improve drought tolerance, and reduce the need for commercial fertilizers.

Become an MCES partner

MCES is accepting new landowner partners for spring and fall application seasons. Reach out to Colton Janes:
612-597-1728
Colton.Janes@metc.state.mn.us

Colton Janes

Contact us

Colton Janes
612-597-1728
Colton.Janes@metc.state.mn.us