On Point for November: Get construction permits in soon

Having trouble reading this message? View it as a webpage.

On Point - News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

November 2018

Planning construction for 2019? Then start applications soon

If your wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) is planning on construction for spring 2019, then be sure to submit the permit application and related documents soon. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recommends submitting completed permit applications, with construction design documents, at least 180 days prior to when you wish to start construction.

Construction at St. Francis WWTF

Here’s why:

  • Changes by the Minnesota Legislature (Minn. Stat 115.542, subd. 3 and 4) now requires the MPCA to provide 30 days for permit applicants to review their draft permit before public notice. Then public notice is 60 days. That means a minimum of 90 days for permit review and commenting.
  • There are also a number of common issues outside of anyone’s control that can extend this time frame.

Most importantly, keep in close communication with your MPCA permit writer and engineer throughout the permitting and review process.

For more information on the permit process see the MPCA website at: www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-wwprm1-32.pdf.

Online soon: Status of phosphorus reviews – and new limits – for wastewater dischargers

In early December the MPCA will release an online tool that provides the status of watershed reviews for phosphorus in rivers. These reviews also include new permit limits for some municipal and industrial WWTFs. The MPCA has been working on this online tool since holding listening sessions in 2016, when several permit holders said they wanted an easy way to know the status of their reviews.

The reviews are part of Minnesota’s implementation of River Eutrophication Standards (RES) adopted in 2015. These standards are designed to protect fish and other aquatic life from the negative impacts of excess suspended algae in rivers and streams. Since adoption of RES, the MPCA has been completing phosphorus reviews on a watershed basis to determine what, if any, total phosphorous limits need to be established for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System (NPDES/SDS) permit holders. These reviews take into account all sources of phosphorus in a river, including agricultural sources, and then assign reductions accordingly. This watershed-based approach ensures that newly assigned RES phosphorus limits are protective of aquatic life and fair for all wastewater dischargers located within each watershed.

The MPCA has 41 of 76 total watershed reviews completed throughout the state. Prior to placing the tool online, the MPCA will email the completed watershed reviews to WWTF owners and operators within those watersheds. The agency expects to send those emails from Nov. 19 – 30.

The online tool will also include a link to request emailed copies of the completed watershed reviews. Requests should be sent to the MPCA Data Desk (datadesk.mpca@state.mn.us) with the watershed name and term “phosphorus review” included in the message title.

Please note that phosphorus limits included in the watershed reviews are not final until included in a new or reissued NPDES/SDS permit.

For more information about watershed reviews and/or phosphorus limits, please contact Steve Weiss of the MPCA at steven.weiss@state.mn.us or 651-757-2814.

Holiday greeting for your customers: Keep grease out of sinks and wipes out of pipes

Wipes clog pipes

For municipal wastewater treatment facilities, feel free to use this article on your city websites and in your community newsletters. Perhaps even send it to the local newspaper for publication.

This holiday season, do yourself and other taxpayers a favor by keeping grease from turkey and ham dinners out of sinks and other drains. And while you’re at it, stop flushing disposable wipes down the toilet, even if the label claims “flushable.” Sewer workers everywhere dread this time of year when the problem of “fatbergs” – clogs of fats, oil, grease, and wipes – worsens, leading to backups and costly repairs.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Dispose of fat, oil and grease by pouring them onto newspaper or other paper items in the trash, or into a non-recyclable container and then into the trash.
  • Another idea: Soak up grease with pieces of crusty bread pieces, and then put the bread on bird feeders for wild critters.
  • Wipe greasy pans, pots and other dishes out with a paper towel before washing.
  • Place disposable wipes in the trash too.

As this video program shows, disposable wipes may flush down the toilet, but they fail to break down. Cities across Minnesota report costly repairs and upgrades after wipes clog their pumps and pipes.

The MPCA has proposed legislation in past sessions to require manufacturers to change their labeling on disposable wipes. The proposals didn’t go far, but the agency has created a toolkit to help educate consumers.

More information:

In the works: Draft Annual Compliance Summary

Wastewater permit compliance

Online Subscribers on NPDES/SDS permits should start receiving emails from the MPCA with their draft Annual Compliance Summary Report in late November.

This draft report provides permittees the opportunity to review the information in the MPCA database regarding their NPDES/SDS permit for the period of Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018. They can then send corrections to the MPCA, which if done promptly, should be reflected in the final version of the report that will be sent to both the online subscriber and the responsible official for the facility in February or March 2019.

In addition to maintaining good data, the updates and corrections help make sure MPCA staff have correct information as they review facilities for the Operational Awards presented at the MPCA Annual Wastewater Operation Conference in March 2019.

To ensure delivery of the draft Annual Compliance Summary Report and avoid diversion to the junk mail folder, please add npdes.pca@state.mn.us to your address book now.

Upcoming MPCA events for operator training

Below are upcoming MPCA seminars for wastewater collection system operator training:

  • Pump Workshop, Nov. 28, Electric Pump, New Prague. The workshop will include pump theory, maintenance, troubleshooting, and hands-on training. (6 credit hours)
  • Wastewater Treatment Basic, Dec. 11-13, Jimmy’s Conference Center, Vadnais Heights. Exam session on Dec. 13 at 12:45 p.m.  (16 credit hours)

Seminar registration forms and exam applications can be found on the MPCA website (www.pca.state.mn.us/water/wastewater-operators-training-and-certification). Please contact Annaliza Heesch at 651-757-2591 or annaliza.heesch@state.mn.us if you have any questions.

Recently posted: 2019 Wastewater Operator training calendar

The 2019 MPCA Wastewater Operator Training Calendar is now posted on the MPCA Wastewater Training website: www.pca.state.mn.us/water/wastewater-operators-training-and-certification

Collection System Conference set for March 25-27, 2019

The MPCA will hold the 45th annual Collection System Conference March 25-27, 2019 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 pipe and manhole rehab, asset management, pumps and lift station tour, SCADA & electrical generation, infiltration and inflow, condition assessment, FOG, cybersecurity, and much more. The conference brochure and registration packet will be available on the MPCA Wastewater Training webpage in January 2019. 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.

Wastewater Operations Conference set for March 27-29, 2019

The MPCA will hold the 82nd annual Wastewater Operations Conference March 27-29, 2019 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, new technologies, emergency response, facility optimization, industrial wastewater and pretreatment, emerging issues, activated sludge operations, stabilization ponds, safety, LSTS, and much more. The conference brochure and registration packet will be available on the MPCA Wastewater Training webpage in January 2019.  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.  

eDMR tips: Name changes coming, make sure you review all calculations


Name changes

Soon the Access Type under “My Facilities” in your e-Services account will be changing from “Water Quality Signatory” to “DMR Signatory.” Also “Water Quality General User” access type will change to “Wastewater General User.” Do not be alarmed when these changes happen as you should have no issues accessing and submitting your DMRs due to these name changes.

Review all calculations

Please make sure you are reviewing the calculations in your DMRs if you are using the calculator tool function. There have been some issues with the 12 -Month Moving Total (12MoTot) limit type and the tool not accurately calculating this value. The MPCA is working with its IT contractor to fix the issue.

See other tips on the MPCA Discharge Monitoring Reports webpage. For help with eDMRs and other compliance issues, you may also contact your MPCA compliance officer.

Permit termination requests to be available via e-services

Permit termination requests will soon be available via the MPCA’s e-Services. Wastewater discharge permit holders will be able to create/log into their accounts to apply for a permit termination. Additional instructions will be provided online when the service is available. During the transition period, the agency will accept either paper (via the Permit Change Request form) or the e-Services application. However, in the future, the online service will be mandatory for permit termination applications. The permit terminations will not be automatic. Following submittal, the agency will review the request and the assigned permit writer will send a confirmation letter.

PFA approves funding for several wastewater projects

The Public Facilities Authority (PFA) recently approved funding for several wastewater infrastructure projects around Minnesota:

Western Lake Superior Sanitary District in Duluth: $25.6 million 

Projects include replacement of the wastewater treatment plant’s main switchgear, improvements to the wastewater treatment plant’s oxygen system, treatment plant screw pump improvements, and interceptor rehabilitation. The funding consists of loans and grants from several sources.

Lucan in Redwood County: $1.65 million

Lucan will use this project to upgrade its wastewater facility. Funding for this project comes from a $455,000 Water Infrastructure Fund grant and the rest comes from the USDA Office of Rural Development in the form of a $250,000 grant and a $947,000 loan.

Sacred Heart in Renville County: $1.37 million

This project focuses on the rehabilitation of the sanitary sewer lines in the city. A $797,630 Water Infrastructure Fund grant will make up a portion of the funding. The rest will come from the USDA Office of Rural Development in the form of a $429,496 grant and a $152,092 loan.

St. Joseph in Stearns County: $1.25 million

The $1.25 million awarded to the City of St. Joseph will assist with the extension of roads, water and sewer service to create an industrial park and facilitate two business expansions which will create 24 full-time jobs.

Faribault in Rice County: $1.06 million

Faribault will use the $1.06 million to assist with Daikin Applied’s expansion. The expansion will provide sanitary sewer and water main infrastructure. Daikin Applied will retain 500 full-time jobs and create an additional 132 full-time jobs.

Read more at the PFA website.

In the news and online: Diving to clean up a wipes mess