Wastewater commission strikes deal with MPCA

By Brenda Erdahl

The Annandale-Maple Lake- Howard Lake Wastewater Commission held a special meeting Thursday, May 10 to talk some more about a dilemma that’s been hounding them for months.

New, stricter phosphorus limits are on the horizon, put in place by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and will mean costly improvements to the Wastewater Treatment Facility in Albion Township.

Minnesota communities, represented by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities have been contesting the new requirements, but according to Bolton & Menk Engineer Jared Voge, they are fighting a very expensive, very steep, uphill battle.

On Thursday, however, the local wastewater commission received some good news, in part, because of what the coalition has been able to accomplish.

Bolton and Menk, along with commission staff have worked with the MPCA to develop a compliance schedule that will allow them to gradually meet the new limits and put off needed improvements to the plant for the future.

“Basically, they said hey, these are your new limits, but we understand you did an improvement in 2009 and it’s not fully funded yet, so here is a compliance schedule that gets you closer to that bond being paid off with the understanding that sometime in the future you are going to have to meet the new limit,” Voge said.

The compliance schedule is probably the best option they are going to get, commission secretary Kelly Hinnenkamp and Voge told the commission. Other communities have spent thousands of dollars on attorneys contesting the new limits and the results have been similar compliance schedules. Since Voge doesn’t see the MPCA changing the new limits anytime soon as they are feeling pressure from federal agencies, negotiating the same deal without the cost of going through attorneys should be viewed as a triumph for the commission.

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