On Point for October 2019: New chloride reduction resources available for cities

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On Point - News and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders

October 2019

New resources available for cities working to reduce chloride pollution

Salt on roads and in water softeners leads to chloride in lakes, streams and groundwater

Cities across Minnesota are working to reduce chloride pollution to lakes and streams, usually by reducing road salt use or by reducing salty discharges to their wastewater treatment plants. The MPCA is pleased to announce two new resources to help cities with these efforts:

  • Suite of model ordinances to regulate deicers
  • Guide for a water softener rebate program

The MPCA partnered with the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District, TetraTech, several local cities and watershed organizations to develop these resources.

The model ordinance serves as guidance for municipal officials who want direction in regulating the use of deicers to protect water quality, animals, human health and infrastructure. The language was adapted from existing code from mid-western localities along with the MPCA’s Smart Salting and deicer management guidance. Local governments may want to institute regulatory options voluntarily or as part of their MS4 program. They may also tailor the language to their needs.

The rebate program guide is for city or watershed staff who have determined that water softeners are a significant source of the chloride load to their wastewater treatment facility. The guide covers the general steps for developing a program to offer residents a rebate for optimizing, upgrading or removing their water softeners.

For additional resources, please visit the Statewide chloride resources webpage or contact Brooke Asleson, MPCA water pollution prevention coordinator, at 651 757-2205 or brooke.asleson@state.mn.us.

UV treatment system fills the bill for water reuse

In order to comply with federal ammonia and phosphorus discharge regulations, and accommodate a growing population, officials in the small Minnesota city of St. Francis recently sought to replace its 1970s-era wastewater treatment facility. Ensuring future sustainability and allowing for expansion were top priorities for the city.

Working with consulting engineer Bolton & Menk, the city pursued non-potable water reuse as a method to meet these priorities. City officials were also hoping to provide long-term economic benefits to the community by expanding water reuse to community parks, golf courses and residential lawns.

They were also mindful that a reuse system would need to comply with regulations designed to ensure that water quality for centralized wastewater reuse is protective of human health.

St. Francis completed construction of a new $20 million water treatment facility in 2018. The plants can process up to 814,000 gallon of wastewater per day. The treatment process includes aeration, detention, tertiary filtration and both clear well pumping and wastewater reclamation facilities. The project also includes a new lift station and elimination of the facility’s discharge outfall to the Rum River. In addition to the treatment plant, the city’s Department of Public Works is responsible for a sewer system consisting of about 19.5 miles of sewer main, 655 manholes and nine lift stations.

The city was already using filtration to meet phosphorus effluent limits designed to protect Seelye Brooke and the Rum River. That meant it only needed additional monitoring and disinfection capacity to meet the prescribed ultraviolet (UV) dose of 100 mJ/cm2 to achieve the five-log virus inactivation and the <2.2 total coliform counts on a seven-day geometric mean. The reuse water is immediately available for site irrigation at the wastewater treatment facility and the nearby public works facility.

When selecting a UV system for non-potable reuse, St. Francis placed significant emphasis on ease of maintenance. Relying on the expertise of city staff with previous horizontal UV system experience, officials knew the importance of system design features that reduce time-consuming maintenance. For this reason and several others, the city selected Xylem’s Wedeco Duron UV system.

The Duron UV system, which meets regulations for water re-use, is an inclined UV system that provides turnkey maintenance the city required. The lamps are easy to reach and replace without having to remove the equipment from the channel. The ballasts are in separate cabinets, making them accessible for maintenance. Additionally, the Duron UV system is equipped with an automatic lifting system for ease of upkeep, off-season storage and improved access to all related equipment.

St. Francis is now satisfying regulatory limits and efficiently handling additional capacity. For example, the system was sized to produce 2 million gallons a day of wastewater for reuse, but it is consistently operated at just 300,000.

The new plant is indeed a greener facility, as the city uses highly treated wastewater for irrigation and other non-potable applications on the premises.

Based on input from permit holders, MPCA now offering checklists again

When the MPCA migrated to a different system for issuing wastewater discharge permits, the agency heard from several permit holders that the new permit form no longer included checklists for submittals and sampling. Permit holders asked for the return of the checklists to help them meet deadlines and stay in compliance. Based on that input, the MPCA is now offering checklists again.

To access the checklists, which are available by wastewater treatment facility:

Email your MPCA compliance officer or datadesk.mpca@state.mn.us with any questions about the NPDES/SDS submittal and sampling checklists.

Compliance tip: Inspecting pond systems for muskrats

If you have a type of pond system, such as a stabilization or flow equalization pond, you are required to perform weekly inspections year-round, as part of your wastewater treatment operations. One of the items to be included on your inspection checklist is to be on the lookout for the presence of muskrats. Lance Loverink with the Minnesota Rural Water Assoc. wrote an excellent article about how to identify the presence of these critters as well as guidance on how to remove them from your wastewater treatment system. For more information, see his article at www.mrwa.com/Today/LanceMuskratarticleSpring2019.pdf.

MPCA posts new form for reporting wastewater releases

Wastewater release sign

To help better determine the causes of wastewater releases across Minnesota, the MPCA has developed a new form for reporting releases. The new form is based on input from operators prior to and at the March 2019 annual wastewater conference and a review of what other Midwest states use for reporting releases.

Going forward, please use this form for reporting releases: www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-wwtp7-20a.docx. Note: The new form requires more information.

If you have any questions about, please contact your MPCA compliance officer.

Reminder: Annual biosolids report due to MPCA and EPA

Biosolids from St. Cloud being transferred to a field applicator

For municipal facilities with a design flow rate equal to or greater than 1 million gallons per day, municipal facilities that serve 10,000 people or more, and other facilities required to report (also known as “Class I sludge management facilities”) please see the following. (Note the federal reports are only for municipal facilities, not industrial facilities.)

Facilities that fall into the above category will need to submit an annual biosolids report to the MPCA by Dec. 31, 2019, and to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by Feb. 19, 2020. Both of these reports will be based on the cropping year.

For questions with the federal report, contact EPA’s help desk: NPDESeReporting@epa.gov or 1-877-227-8965. Additional information can be found at: www.epa.gov/compliance/npdes-ereporting .

All municipal facilities in Minnesota that manage biosolids are required to submit a biosolids annual report by Dec. 31, 2019. Please note that even if you didn’t land apply during the 2019 cropping year, a biosolids annual report still needs to be submitted.

New this year: State report must also be submitted electronically

Submit the state biosolids annual report electronically by e-mail. For the cover letter, use the form at this link: www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-wwprm7-71.docx. Email both the cover letter and report to: wq.submittals.mpca@state.mn.us.

Contact Sherry Bock of the MPCA at 218-316-3882 or sheryl.bock@state.mn.us or Cole Huggins at 218-316-3928 or cole.huggins@state.mn.us with any questions.

Coming soon: 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 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, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019. They can then send corrections to the MPCA with their permit number and facility name, which if done promptly, should be reflected in the final version of the report that is sent to both the online subscriber and the responsible official/owner for the facility in early 2020.

In addition, the updates and corrections help make sure MPCA staff have good data as they review facilities for the Operational Awards presented at the MPCA Annual Wastewater Operation Conference in March 2020.

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

Volunteers needed for Type V (spray irrigation) 2020 Need-to-Know

In 2020, the MPCA will ask Type V (spray irrigation) operators for their help, expertise, and participation in the Need-to-Know process. Your involvement may include: 

  • Creating a task analysis, which is a document outlining job tasks that Type V certified professionals should be able to competently complete
  • Piloting examination questions, which is reviewing and critiquing potential questions for the Type V examination

​Participation methods are flexible and you can volunteer by becoming a member of the steering team (in-person meetings) or through a sounding board (e-mail). For further information, please contact Matthew Rotz, certification and training specialist at matthew.rotz@state.mn.us. Be sure to stay tuned for future announcements and a call for volunteers as dates are set. 

Updates and training events for operators

Update for Type IV operators: On May 6, 2019, the reduction for the number of contact hours you need for renewing your Type IV certification became official. You now need 6 hours every three years instead of 9 hours every three years. This means that the day and a half training will now be a one-day training, starting in 2020.

Upcoming training events:

  • Collection Systems Basic, Nov. 19-21, Jimmy’s Conference Center, Vadnais Heights. Exam session is Nov. 21 at 12:45 p.m. (16 credit hours)
  • Wastewater Treatment Basic, Dec. 17-19, Jimmy’s Conference Center, Vadnais Heights. Exam applications must be postmarked by Dec. 4. Exam Session will be held at 12:45 p.m. on Dec. 19. (16 credit hours)

For seminar registration forms and exam applications, visit the MPCA website. Please contact Annaliza Heesch at annaliza.heesch@state.mn.us or 651-757-2591 if you have any questions.

Collection System Conference set for March 23-25, 2020

The MPCA will hold the 46th annual Collection System Conference March 23-25, 2020 at the Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park (7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park, Minn.). The conference brochure and registration packet will be available on the MPCA Wastewater Training webpage in January 2020.

Highlights include:

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

Wastewater Operations Conference set for March 25-27, 2020

The MPCA will hold the 83rd annual Wastewater Operations Conference March 25-27, 2020 at the Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park (7025 Northland Drive North, Brooklyn Park, Minn.). The conference brochure and registration packet will be available on the MPCA Wastewater Training webpage in January 2020.

Highlights include:

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