On Point for April 2016: Success story, operator awards, no eServices April 22-25

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On Point - News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

April 2016

Success story:

Wastewater plants keeping much more ‘P’ out of MN waters

Mississippi River

During this Water Action Week called by Gov. Mark Dayton, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) salutes all the communities and industries that have taken action to greatly decrease phosphorus that causes algae in lakes and streams,  including the Mississippi River (photo at right).

Since 2000, Minnesota wastewater treatment facilities have decreased the amount of phosphorus in their discharges to surface waters by 71 percent, from 1,855 metric tons per year to 544 metric tons, according to the 2016 Pollution Report to the Legislature.

That sharp decrease stems from a strategy that the MPCA Citizens Board adopted in 2000 to address phosphorus limits in permits.

With the exception of nitrogen levels, which have remained relatively flat in wastewater discharges, facilities have also made improvements in the following:

  • Total suspended solids which are particles in wastewater that are often linked to other pollutants such as metals and nutrients
  • Mercury which is a toxic element that accumulates in fish tissue
  • Carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand which is a measurement of how pollutants can deplete oxygen needed by fish and other aquatic life

Facilities have managed to make this progress, even with growing populations and wastewater volumes, by investing in technology, equipment and training.

“State and local officials will need to continue their diligence to ensure that municipalities have effective treatment facilities and capacity for growth, to continue Minnesota’s legacy of wastewater operator excellence and water quality improvement,” the report states.

Wastewater permits are part of the MPCA’s water quality program designed to protect and improve the state’s rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater so that they support healthy aquatic communities and designated public uses such as fishing, swimming and drinking water.

Phosphorus decreasing in wastewater discharges

Phosphorus has greatly decreased in wastewater discharges across Minnesota since 2000.

MPCA recognizes wastewater plant operators for excellence

The MPCA recently recognized 288 Minnesota wastewater treatment facilities for maintaining a perfect record of permit compliance during 2015.

MPCA Assistant Commissioner Rebecca Flood had high praise for the award recipients: “Wastewater operators are at the front lines of keeping our water clean. We ask a lot of them, and time and again, they’ve met our expectations. These men and women do good work, and it shows.” 

To be eligible for this recognition, facilities were required to submit all monitoring reports to the MPCA correctly and on time, demonstrate consistent compliance through monitoring or surveys and employ staff certified by the MPCA in wastewater operations. 

The awards were presented at the 79th annual Wastewater Operations Conference in Brooklyn Park. The annual conference brings together wastewater operators from Minnesota for training and professional education. In Minnesota, there are about 1,500 municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities. Community, institution or treatment plant size was not a factor in awarding the certificates.

A complete list of winners is available on the agency's Wastewater page. Pictures of awardees who picked up their awards in person are available on the MPCA's Flickr page.

Water Action Week: Do one thing for water

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed April 18-April 22 as Water Action Week. With many Minnesotans planning events on Earth Day April 22, Dayton is encouraging action all week to protect and restore the state’s water resources. The governor will be visiting classrooms and water treatment facilities to highlight his call for an ethic of clean water practices.

This is a great time for local partners to call attention to the work they do every day for Minnesota’s water resources. The MPCA thanks all the SWCDs, watershed groups, cities and counties for their input, support and programs to protect and restore water resources.

The MPCA encourages everyone to "Do One Thing for Water."

eDMR news: No eDMR online service April 22-25

The MPCA is preparing to implement the second phase of its move to a new data and information management system. To prepare for this move, all MPCA online services will be unavailable from noon on Friday, April 22 to noon on Monday, April 25. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

 When the second phase of this move is fully implemented, a half dozen new or redeveloped online services will available, including ones for sewer extension permitting and subsurface sewage treatment system business license renewals. Watch for updates in future uses of On Point.


Once online services are back up, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Permit holders need to complete and submit the daily values spreadsheet (either the Sample Values Spreadsheet or Operational Spreadsheet) for the monitoring period.
  2. Permit holders need to save all their submitted documents, such as  Sample Values, DMR, Pond Observations spreadsheets and any supporting documentation, to their computer, an external device, or on paper on site, and readily available for MPCA review.

State seeking proposals for analysis of water quality standards, rules

Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) recently issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the development of an engineering cost analysis of current and recently adopted, proposed, or anticipated changes to water quality standards and rules. The selected responder is expected to have significant experience working with water quality standards and rules. The cost for this study may not exceed $500,000.

 A copy of the RFP may be obtained by contacting Dennis Munkwitz at MMB by email at dennis.munkwitz@state.mn.us or phone at 651-201-8004.

Proposals are due on Monday, June 13, 2016.

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