On Point for January 2019: Time to get projects rolling, changes made based on feedback

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On Point - News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

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State now accepting submissions for water infrastructure projects

Wastewater treatment facility in Mankato, MN

State agencies are now accepting submissions to place public wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure improvement projects on the 2020 Project Priority Lists (PPL) and Intended Use Plans (IUP) for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. Projects must be listed on the appropriate PPL as the first step to be eligible for funds.

System owners must request that their projects be placed on the appropriate 2020 IUP if they expect to be ready for construction and are seeking revolving funds for fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020).

The two state revolving fund programs are administered by the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA), with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The PFA provides low-interest loans or grants to local governments for eligible projects based on priorities determined by the MPCA (for wastewater and stormwater projects) and MDH (for drinking water projects).

For more information and instructions, please see this online document or contact one of the agency staff below.

Project Priority List – Clean Water Revolving Fund

  • Wastewater and stormwater projects
  • Deadline: March 1 to MPCA
  • PPL application and scoring worksheet (including supporting documentation, as required)
  • Wastewater facilities plans
  • Stormwater project plans
  • Contact: Bill Dunn, MPCA, at 651-757-2324 or bill.dunn@state.mn.us
  • More information: www.pca.state.mn.us/ppl

Project Priority List – Drinking Water Revolving Fund

Intended Use Plans – both programs

Planning construction for 2019? Then start applications soon

Construction at St. Francis WWTF

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.

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.

Open for comment: Changing rule to reduce number of hours for Type IV operator certificate

The MPCA is planning to make a minor amendment to Minnesota Rule 7048.1000 to reduce the number of training hours required to renew a Type IV certificate. The MPCA trains and certifies the inspectors and operators of facilities that land-apply biosolids and industrial by-products for beneficial reuse (Type IV facilities). After completing initial training, Type IV operators and inspectors must currently receive 9 hours of additional training every 3 years to maintain their certification. In this rulemaking the MPCA is proposing to reduce the number of recertification training hours from 9 to 6.

Comments, which must be in writing, are due by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 15. For more information, visit the “Amendments to operator training requirements” webpage.

We heard you and what we’re doing: MPCA revises inspection report according to feedback

Cory Schultz, MPCA compliance staff, visits with Mabel MN ww operator

The MPCA will soon roll out a revised inspection report based on feedback from listening sessions and a survey of wastewater professionals.

In 2016 and 2017 the agency held seven wastewater listening sessions across the state. Operators stated they would like clarity for requirements concerning thermometers and chain of custody forms while others expressed a desire to receive communications via email. Around the same time, the EPA stated the MPCA needed clear documentation for laboratory and field equipment requirement review, such as proper calibration, during MPCA inspections at facilities. In response, the MPCA agreed to revise its inspection report template to ensure greater consistency and comprehensiveness for its inspectors to use on wastewater inspections.

As a follow-up in 2017, the MPCA included a survey in this newsletter seeking input from wastewater professionals on their preferred style and timing of inspection reports. About 350 wastewater professionals completed the survey (thank you!). A summary of the preferences included:

  • 47% of respondents stated a checklist style report was their first preference
    • Coming in second, with 36% of respondents, was a hybrid which includes both a checklist and room for narrative/comments
  • 78% of respondents stated having the inspection report emailed within 5 days was their first and second choice of the 5 choices given (mailed within 30 days, emailed within 30 days, mailed within 5 days, emailed within 5 days, or at the end of the inspection)
    • Coming in second, at 49%, was receiving the report at the end of the inspection

Comments included the following:

  • Always best to know at the end of the inspection if there are any violations or corrective actions so that steps can be taken immediately.
  • A compliance inspection should be complete when the inspector leaves the facility with communication within 5 days.
  • Our corporate structure needs information quickly.

The MPCA has revised the inspection report into a hybrid checklist to facilitate the following:

  • Quicker communication, including the option to email reports contingent upon agreement by MPCA and facility staff.
  • Greater consistency with a more comprehensive report template, including specific laboratory equipment checks.
  • More efficient and comprehensive pre-inspection review to foster discussion during the inspection and possibly include less records review while at the facility.

Permit holders should start seeing the new inspection reports as follow-up to their next MPCA inspection. Please share any feedback with your inspector. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us; they were valuable in guiding the report revisions.

From snail mail to email: MPCA now receiving reports, submittals electronically

The MPCA is pleased to announce that it will now receive most reports and submittals electronically from wastewater treatment facilities with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) / State Disposal System (SDS) permits. These permits require certain reports and water quality submittals (WQ Submittals).

The majority of these WQ Submittals can now be emailed to: wq.submittals.mpca@state.mn.us.

Please follow these steps:

  • Fill out the WQ Submittals form (available at the bottom of the DMRs webpage)
  • Attach the form and submittal to your email
  • Send the email by the due date

Note: The MPCA will not deem the WQ Submittal as received unless the form is attached.

The EXCEPTION to this new electronic submittal process is:

  • Pretreatment Annual Reports
  • Whole Effluent Toxicity Tests (WET Tests)

These must still be submitted as paper copies to:

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Attention: WQ Submittals Center

520 Lafayette Road North

St. Paul, MN 55155-4194

If you have any questions regarding this new process, please contact your assigned data manager or compliance staff person.

Last chance to make updates to Annual Compliance Summary

The MPCA emailed the Annual Compliance Summary report to online subscribers (DMR signatories) for NPDES/SDS permits between Nov. 26 and Dec. 3 via the NPDES email address: npdes.pca@state.mn.us. If you found errors in the report, send updates to npdes.pca@state.mn.us as soon as possible. Please pay special attention to the responsible entity or owner to make sure their contact information is up to date. The final report will be sent to both the online subscriber and the responsible official or owner via email in March.

If your online subscriber has not received the draft report, send an email to npdes.pca@state.mn.us requesting a copy of your Draft Annual Compliance Summary.

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.

eDMR tip on chlorine use, correction to last month’s tip


No chlorine used; no results for a parameter

When completing your eDMR, note that if your facility used no chlorine or did no chlorine monitoring, then it has no results for a parameter. On the eDMR, leave the sample values boxes blank and add a note indicating that you did not chlorinate or that monitoring wasn't done.

Do not put "0" or "NA" in the parameter boxes.

Correction to last month's tip

If you need to cancel sample values that are in progress, or otherwise start over on your DMR, please do the following:

  • To start over, click “My Workspace” tab
  • Under “My Services – In Progress,” click the red X
  • Make sure you are cancelling the DMR and not your facility!

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.

MPCA adds exam sessions, other training opportunities

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

Keep checking training calendar for new events

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

There will be 3 exam sessions in March:

  • The Minnesota Rural Water Association Annual conference in St. Cloud will host an exam session on March 7. All exam applications must be postmarked by Feb. 20 for the March 7 exam session.  
  • The MPCA will offer exam sessions on March 26 at the Annual Collections System Conference and on March 29 at the Annual Wastewater Operators Conference held in Brooklynn Park. Applications for these sessions must be postmarked by March 11.

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.

Type V Refresher seminar

The Type V (Spray Irrigation) Refresher will be held on March 26, 2019 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest (7025 Northland Drive, Brooklyn Park, Minn.) This course will be offered during the Collection System Annual Conference, but a separate registration will be required and will be available in January on the MPCA Wastewater Training website. Six Type V or wastewater contact hours will be offered for the course.

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

Face to face: Visit the MPCA booth at Wastewater Operations Conference

Have a question about your permit? Having trouble with eDMRs? Then be sure to stop at the "Ask MPCA" booth March 26 during the Collection System Conference and all three days of the 82nd annual Wastewater Operations Conference March 27-29. Regional staff and data managers will be on hand to answer your questions. Staff will be available to answer questions on the following topics:

  • Industrial byproducts
  • Trading
  • Pond management
  • Mechanical facility management
  • Biosolids
  • Variances and chlorides
  • River Eutrophication Standards
  • Toxics, mercury and priority pollutants
  • Pretreatment
  • Data management – Discharge Monitoring Reports and WQ Submittals
  • Biological nutrient removal
  • Lab and analytical

The MPCA will hold a “meet and greet” during the vendor show March 27 with staff from each regional office, the industrial division and data management available to ask questions. Be sure to stop by!

League of Minnesota Cities releases new model ordinance on inflow and infiltration

The League of Minnesota Cities recently released a new model ordinance to help cities keep clean water out of their sanitary sewer systems: http://www.lmc.org/page/1/I-IModelOrdinance.jsp?ssl=true.

Minnesota cities spend a great deal of money treating wastewater. Increased costs result when clean stormwater enters the sanitary sewer system through roof drains, foundation drains, defective sewer service laterals, or sump pump systems. Excess clean stormwater can also overload the sanitary sewer system during periods of heavy rainfall, causing basement flooding or bypassing of raw wastewater to local streams and lakes.

The new Inflow and Infiltration Model Ordinance was designed to help cities address this problem. The ordinance prohibits the discharge of clean water into the sanitary sewer system from sump pump connections, defective plumbing, and defective sewer service laterals.

The ordinance also allows cities to develop an inspection program (citywide or at point of sale only), require corrections by property owners, and assess penalties for violations. Upon compliance, the city issues a certificate of compliance to the property owner.

Please direct questions regarding the ordinance to the League of Minnesota Cities at (651) 281-1200 or toll-free at 800-925-1122.