On Point for March 2017: Conferences, legislative updates, eDMR tips

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On Point - News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

March 2017

Collection System Conference set for March 27-29

Manhole cover for wastewater

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will hold the 43rd annual Collection System Conference March 27-29 at the Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park. (7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park, Minn.).

Highlights include:

  • SA and SB exam refresher
  • SC and SD exam refresher
  • Certification examinations
  • Vendor and professional organization displays

Other topics include leadership, pipe and manhole rehab, asset management, pumps and lift station tour, electrical generation and controls, infiltration and inflow, cybersecurity, public relations, utility locating, and much more.

See the full conference brochure and registration packet on the MPCA Wastewater Training webpage. Exam refreshers require pre-registration (see the registration page of the brochure for details).  Questions? Contact Tracy Finch at 651-757-2103 or tracy.finch@state.mn.us.

Wastewater Operations Conference set for March 29-31

Mankato wastewater treatment plant

The MPCA will hold the 80th annual Wastewater Operations Conference March 29-31 at the Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park. (7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park, Minn.).

Highlights include:

  • A & B exam refresher
  • C & D exam refresher
  • Type IV (biosolids) refresher
  • Certification examinations
  • Vendor and professional organization displays
  • Facility Operational Awards ceremony

Other topics include new plant and/upgrades, eDMRs, flooding challenges and response, emerging issues, energy efficiency, industrial wastewater, strategies for optimizing operations, stabilization ponds, safety, LSTS/small plants, and much more.

This year the MPCA is pleased to announce that more than 300 permitted wastewater treatment facilities will be receiving an Operational Award. The awards ceremony will be held Thursday, March 30, at 2:45 p.m.  Recipients will be notified directly and the list is posted on the MPCA’s wastewater webpage.

See the full conference brochure and registration packet on the MPCA Wastewater Training webpage. Exam refreshers and type IV refresher require pre-registration (see the registration page of the brochure for details). Questions? Contact Tracy Finch at 651-757-2103 or tracy.finch@state.mn.us.

Reminder: Complete training hours before certification expires

Please note that you need to complete your training contact hours before your certification expiration date. If you need contact hours to maintain your certification, the following providers offer online training:

For more information, contact Dianne Navratil at the MPCA at dianne.navratil@state.mn.us.

Tip on completing forms for operator licensing and training

When filling out our applications and forms, it is preferable to use your personal email and physical home address. Your wastewater or collection system license is issued to you, so you are responsible for it (similar to your driver’s license). Don’t leave it up to others to take care of it!

Moving? Changing jobs? Let the MPCA know

If you move, change jobs, or change email addresses, make sure you notify the MPCA. The agency often has a hard time tracking down operators when their contact information changes.  Contact Dianne Navratil at dianne.navratil@state.mn.us or 651-757-2599 with any changes.

Legislative updates: Bonding bill and changing wipes labeling

Bonding proposal includes $167 million for Public Facilities Authority

In his $1.5 billion bonding proposal for the 2017 legislative session, Gov. Mark Dayton included $167 million for the Public Facilities Authority to use for grants and loans to cities for water-related projects. The proposal also raises the cap on the amount of grant funding per project from $3 million to $7 million, and the percentage of the project cost covered by a grant from 50% to 80%. Introduced as House File 892 and Senate File 640 in January, the bill still awaits a hearing as of this writing.

Wipes clog pipes: MPCA introduces bill again to change labeling

After hearing from several communities on the expensive damage to their wastewater treatment systems from personal wipes labeled as “flushable,” the MPCA recently introduced legislation - House File 1644 and Senate File 1536 - to change wipes labeling in Minnesota. This proposal would ban “flushable,” “septic safe,” or “sewer safe” labeling from nonwoven disposable products (wipes) sold in Minnesota. It would also require the packaging to include a “Do not flush” message.

Wipes clog pipes in Pillager, MN

This is the same bill introduced in 2016 that passed the Minnesota Senate but died in a House committee.

For details about the bill, contact Joel Peck, MPCA municipal liaison, at 651-757-2202 or joel.peck@state.mn.us. For a fact sheet about the bill, contact Cathy Rofshus, public information officer, at the phone or email listed below.

Photo at right: The City of Pillager in central Minnesota spent $10,000 over six months repairing and replacing two pumps in its collection system that were damaged by wipes.

eDMR news: How to cancel spreadsheet, enter chloride


How to cancel a spreadsheet or DMR

If you have downloaded a Sample Values Spreadsheet or DMR by mistake and would like to start over, you can cancel them out by:

  • Clicking on the MyWorkspace Tab, under the “My Services – In Progress” section
  • Select the red cancel button on the right side of the page
  • Make sure you are canceling out a DMR and not your facility

Tip on Total Residual Chlorine: Leave boxes blank if no chlorine used

When entering data into spreadsheets: If chlorine is not used, leave the Total Residual Chlorine boxes blank on both the sample values and DMR spreadsheets and enter “Chlorine Not Used” on the DMR comment line.  Zero is a value and should not be used unless there is an actual test result of zero.

If you need the form for completing a Release Sampling Report, you can find one on the MPCA website: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-wwtp7-20a.doc

More information

Visit the data managers at the 80th Annual Wastewater Operations Conference at the DMR Desk or during the DMR session on Wednesday, March 29.

Go to the MPCA website at www.pca.state.mn.us/water/how-complete-your-discharge-monitoring-report-dmr or contact your MPCA compliance officer.

Regulatory certainty: We heard you and what we’re doing

The MPCA held a series of listening sessions in 2016 for wastewater discharge permit holders. Cities and wastewater professionals asked for more information about regulatory certainty, a 2016 law that maintains nutrient limits for facilities that work to lower nitrogen discharges before Minnesota adopts a nitrogen water quality standard.


Regulatory certainty allows the MPCA to hold the line on nutrient limits in discharge permits for up to 20 years in exchange for communities and industries agreeing to lower nutrients even more than current standards. Minnesota has water quality standards for phosphorus and is working on standards for nitrogen. Both these nutrients can cause algal blooms harmful to aquatic life and recreation. Nitrogen can also be toxic to fish and other aquatic life, as well as harmful to humans in drinking water.

This approach takes the uncertainty out of planning for facilities needing to upgrade or build systems to comply with phosphorus limits. By incorporating nitrogen removal too, they can avoid higher costs to comply with new standards in 5-10 years.

Program update:

MPCA legal staff is working on a memorandum of understanding that applicants would need to sign to qualify for the program. Meanwhile, permit holders may contact Joel Peck, MPCA municipal liaison, at the email and phone number below for application instructions and more information.

For more information about regulatory certainty, contact:

Joel Peck

Municipal liaison




Water/Ways exhibit opens in Detroit Lakes

Water/Ways exhibit in Detroit Lakes

The Water/Way exhibit is now open at the Becker County Historical Society in Detroit Lakes through April 9.  The exhibit will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The Becker County Historical Society & Museum is located at 714 Summit Ave. in Detroit Lakes.

Water/Ways is a traveling exhibition and community engagement initiative of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program. In Minnesota, Water/Ways is led by the Minnesota Humanities Center in partnership with MPCA, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota section of the American Water Works Association, and six greater Minnesota communities.

In the news and online: MPCA staff map, ‘tsunami of sewage spills’