The Path to Replacing One of Minnesota’s Oldest Wastewater Treatment Plants

The Path to Replacing One of Minnesota’s Oldest Wastewater Treatment Plants

Before launching a new facility in 2022, the City of Lanesboro, Minnesota, had one of the oldest wastewater treatment plants in the state. The city’s original plant was built in 1938 and predated many advancements in technology and regulations over the past 80-plus years. In fact, it predated the inception of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, which was the first major United States law to address water pollution.

Old Lanesboro Wastewater Facility

The City of Lanesboro has always been a forward-thinking community and knew changes were needed. They started a plant assessment in 2016, collaborating with Bolton & Menk to identify obvious needs and develop a facility plan report. The age of the plant coupled with the high cost of a renovation made it clear a new plant was the best long-term solution.

The facility plan report was submitted to the State of Minnesota in March of 2017. The City of Lanesboro hoped to get on the funding list for a Water Infrastructure Fund (WIF) grant and a Clean Water Revolving Fund (CWRF) loan based on their information and the initial cost estimate. The project scored well and was in a good position to receive funding.

Based on this assumption, in late 2017 and early 2018, the City of Lanesboro was doing final design work, as well as detailed engineering drawings and specifications. The plant itself was designed to be easily expandable, and can be modified for future permit limits, like nitrogen or phosphorus. The project was then submitted to the state and certified. The city then bid the project, which was completed in March of 2020.

Wapasha Construction of Winona, Minnesota was the general contractor, while Bolton & Menk served as lead design consultant. Construction began in the fall of 2020. The supply chain issues affecting many areas of the municipal world also affected construction of the new plant; equipment deliveries and other supply chain issues made things more challenging. Electrical and computer systems were two crucial components that were slow in coming; these supply shortages delayed the opening of the plant from June 2022 to November 2022.

Lanesboro Wastewater Facility under construction

Final funding for the plant came through in February 2021. The total received was $9,844,331, with $5 million coming in the form of a WIF grant and $4,844,331 coming from a CWRF loan at 1%.

The new wastewater treatment plant went online in October 2022, with a month of time set aside to start-up the new plant before retiring the old one. The first step was to combine the wastewater flow from residents in town into the new plant and the old plant simultaneously. This was necessary so if problems arose, the old plant would work in tandem with the new plant, thereby avoiding effluent violations or failure to meet the requirements of the city’s wastewater permit.

To do this, the contractor placed sandbags inside of an upstream manhole to create an approximate 50/50 flow split between the old plant and the new pumping station. Wastewater that was diverted to the new pumping station was sent to the new plant, which slowly filled up the various process tanks and components until the new plant was functional. Then the treated wastewater was pumped back to the old plant while quality control and testing was performed. Once the new plant met all permit requirements, the flow from the new plant was diverted to the river.

The old plant went offline permanently on November 28, 2022. Demolition began in December 2022 and will be completed in spring 2023. The remaining detailed work at the new plant, such as landscaping, pavement, and fencing, will also be completed in spring 2023.

The City of Lanesboro’s old wastewater treatment plant provided decades of faithful service to the community. Its new, modern facility will be able to serve residents for decades to come.

Jerod Wagner, Lanesboro Public Utilities Supervisor, and Michele Peterson, Lanesboro City Administrator, each played a pivotal role in implementing the city’s new wastewater treatment facility.

Jake Pichelmann, Principal Environmental Engineer at Bolton & Menk, played a leading role in the delivery of the new facility.

Excerpts of this article are credited to Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association, The Resource Newsletter.

As published in the Spring 2023 issue of The Wastewatcher, an MWOA magazine.

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