On Point for February 2018: $1.54 billion bonding proposal, annual wastewater conferences

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On Point - News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

February 2018

Governor proposes $1.54 billion bonding package, including water infrastructure

Rusted WWTP dosing valve at Donnelly in Stevens County

Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a $1.54 billion bonding package aimed at “urgently needed” projects throughout Minnesota. The package includes $998 million for infrastructure and $543 million for public colleges and universities.

The $998 million infrastructure proposal includes the following for water resources:

  • $80 million for the Water Infrastructure Funding Program to increase aid to communities for rehabilitating aging wastewater and drinking water systems
  • $62 million for the Point Source Implementation Grant Program to help local governments pay for wastewater treatment plant upgrades
  • $25 million for the Clean Water and Drinking Water Revolving Funds
  • $5 million for grants to local governments in the metro area to resolve infiltration and inflow problems

See the governor’s website for a full list of projects included his public works proposal.

The proposal would create nearly 23,000 jobs and fund more than 218 projects statewide, the governor said in a statement, adding that although infrastructure investments have been made during his time in office, they have not kept pace with the “enormous need” across Minnesota. Communities throughout the state need almost $5 billion over the next 20 years for wastewater infrastructure, mostly to fix aging systems, according to a recent survey.

When releasing a report this week summarizing key findings from 10 Water Quality Town Hall meetings, Dayton noted the projects funded last year and the increasing need this year. The 2017 Public Works Bill funded at least 22 projects, but a new analysis shows that at least 171 local clean water projects will need additional state funding to move forward. The governor highlighted the Redwood Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant as one of those awaiting funding. This city in southwest Minnesota is seeking state funding toward a $16 million project to rehabilitate its aging facility and reduce phosphorus in its discharge. The system was last upgraded nearly 30 years ago.

This will be the final session for the two-term governor, who has made water quality a top issue of his time in office. The Legislature, which convened Feb. 20, must complete its work by May 21 this year.

Related media coverage:

Photo above right: Rusted wastewater equipment at Donnelly in Stevens County is one example of aging infrastructure across Minnesota.

eDMR tips: Format data as required by permit, process to follow for submittals


Formatting data

Submit data on the Sample Values and DMR in the same format as the Limits and Monitoring section in your permit requires. For example, if the permit indicates whole numbers with no decimals, then use only whole numbers on the Sample Values and the DMR.  If the permit indicates one number to the right of the decimal point, then use only one number to the right of the decimal point on the Sample Values and DMR, etc. Failure to do so causes data submittal problems and false violations that require amended Sample Values and DMRs. Also, be sure to use proper rounding.

Sequence to follow for submittals 

Here's another tip, this one on the sequencing of submittals. Follow this process when submitting eDMRs:

  • First submit daily sample values
  • Then submit the DMR
  • Finally submit attachments

For more guidance on eDMRs, please visit the MPCA booth at the annual wastewater conference (more information below) or this DMR webpage.

March 19-21: MPCA to hold annual Collection System Conference

The MPCA will hold the 44th annual Collection System Conference March 19-21 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 inspection techniques and tools, pipe and manhole rehab, asset management, pumps and lift station tour, electrical generation and controls, infiltration and inflow, condition assessment, odor control and biofilters, working alongside your coworkers, and much more. The conference brochure and registration packet is available on the MPCA wastewater training webpage. Exam refreshers require pre-registration; see the registration page of the brochure for details. For more information, contact Annaliza Heesch at 651-757-2591 or annaliza.heesch@state.mn.us.

Face to face: Visit the MPCA booth at Wastewater Operations Conference March 21-23

Have a question about your permit? Having trouble with eDMRs? Then be sure to stop at the MPCA booth during the 81st annual Wastewater Operations Conference March 21-23 at the Marriott Northwest (7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park, Minn.). Regional staff and data managers will be on hand to answer your questions. Also note the eDMR session at noon on Wednesday, March 21.

The conference brochure and registration packet is available on the MPCA wastewater training webpage.

Highlights of the conference 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 plants and upgrades, aging infrastructure and asset management, flooding challenges and response, emerging issues, facility optimization, industrial wastewater and pretreatment, treatment approaches for small wastewater utilities, stabilization ponds, safety, new large subsurface treatment system policies and procedures, and much more. The conference brochure and registration packet is available on the MPCA wastewater training webpage. Exam refreshers require pre-registration; see the registration page of the brochure for details. For more information, contact Annaliza Heesch at 651-757-2591 or annaliza.heesch@state.mn.us.

Planning to take an exam at annual conference? Here’s what you need to know

If you are planning on taking an exam at the 2018 MPCA Annual Collection System or Wastewater Operations Conference, certification exams will be offered at the following times:

  • Collection System Conference: Wednesday, March 21 from 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Wastewater Operations Conference: Friday, March 23 from 8 a.m. - Noon

Eligible operators intending to take the exam must complete and mail an exam application and application fee on or before March 6. Exam applications are available at: www.pca.state.mn.us/publications/wq-wwtp8-00.pdf. Questions? Contact Tracy Finch at 651-757-2103, 1-800-657-3864, or tracy.finch@state.mn.us .

MPCA announces WWTF Operational Award recipients

The MPCA is pleased to announce the 2017 Wastewater Treatment Facility Operational Award recipients. The list of recipients is available online. The agency reviewed all eligible permit holders for outstanding compliance over the period from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017. Awards will be presented on Thursday, March 22, at 3 p.m. at the 81st Annual Wastewater Operations Conference. Questions? Contact your compliance officer.

2018 training calendar now up for wastewater operators

The 2018 MPCA Wastewater Operator Training Calendar and registration form is now available on the MPCA Wastewater Training website: www.pca.state.mn.us/water/training-wastewater-operators.

MPCA announces new supervisor for industrial permits

Theresa Haugen, MPCA

The MPCA is pleased to announce that Theresa Haugen (photo at right) has accepted the position of supervisor of industrial water quality permits. This position was previously held by Jeff Udd, who recently moved up to be manager of the mining sector for the agency. Haugen has been with the MPCA for 10 years, including working on the air quality emissions inventory before coming to the industrial division’s biofuels sector as a wastewater permit writer. She later joined the industrial wastewater permitting team and played a major role in managing water quality concerns related to silica sand mining. For the past 2 years Haugen has been the supervisor of the southeast region point source wastewater and SSTS compliance and enforcement unit. She is known within the agency for her strong communications and project management skills. You can reach Haugen at 218-316-3920 or theresa.haugen@state.mn.us.

Four communities receive grants for expansions of services

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development recently awarded grants totaling $5.24 million to four cities in rural Minnesota:

  • The city of Brooten, in Stearns and Pope counties, received $1.03 million toward a sewer improvement project and roadway in an existing industrial park. The total estimated project cost is $2.78 million. These improvements will expand sanitary service throughout the park and extend a water main. This project will help retain employees and open up four vacant sites for future development.
  • The city of Luverne, in Rock County, will use a $1.98 million grant to help with the expansion of Ralco Nutrition Tru Shrimp. The $5.39 million infrastructure project will include street improvements, as well as storm and sanitary sewer, water main and other site improvements. This project has the potential to create 74 full-time jobs and increase economic development activity in the area.
  • The city of Royalton, in Morrison and Benton counties, received $227,014 in funding toward extending water and sewer service to a new industrial park at an estimated cost of $454,028. The 19.2-acre site will encourage business expansion and create local jobs.
  • And the city of Marshall, in Lyon Couny, will use $2 million in funding for a new industrial park to accommodate an expansion by Ralco Nutrition. The $5.15 million project will extend road, water main, storm and sanitary sewer service to a 9-acre lot. Twenty jobs will be created initially.

In the news and online: U.S. Steel, state settle lawsuit over permit