BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN In December, the Delano City Council directed staff to study the upcoming challenges facing the wastewater treatment plant and the impacts they might have on the plant.
City Administrator Phil Kern presented those findings to the council Tuesday, in advance of a March 31 deadline to submit a report to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Action will be required in advance of a 2023 deadline to renew the permit for the plant.
The city has four goals:
• Maximize the investment the community has made in the existing plant.
• Make smart expansions.
• Address short-term needs while staying flexible long-term.
• Meet MPCA permitting requirements regarding phosphorus.
One expansion the city will make will increase storage capacity for alum, which is used to treat the wastewater for phosphorus.
Being able to purchase more alum at one time will reduce the per-unit cost by 40 percent and the number of deliveries from once weekly to once every four to six weeks.
Councilwoman Betsy Moran estimated that the storage expansion would pay for itself within three years due to the savings.
The city plans to utilize the facility’s reed beds for as long as possible, though the phragmites used in the beds are now considered noxious weeds and the amount of biosolids will increase due to industrial expansion.
“We’ll have to come up with a short-term and long-term bio-solid-handling mechanism,” Kern said. “In the short-term, the recommendation is to install a screw press. Ultimately, the point of a screw press is to eliminate as much water as possible so you don’t have to ship as much to the landfill and can cut down on the amount of trips.”
In 2023, the city will make its last payment on the facility, which would allow for the financing of the screw press, though the exact cost of it has not yet been confirmed.
Long-term, the city hopes to dispose of the byproduct in a waste digester that Randy’s Environmental Services hopes to build and operate.
Mayor Dale Graunke asked if the bio-solids could be dried.
Doing so would require more space than is available at the facility.
“Another adverse side effect would be increased odor,” City Engineer Shawn Louwagie said.
Regarding the phragmites, Councilman Jason Franzen asked if they could be contained in some sort of greenhouse that would not allow the spores to escape. However, the phragmites would not be contained when the reed beds would be evacuated.
Franzen said the city should explore legislative options to allow the city to continue using phragmites. If phragmites could continue to be used, it would prevent additional trips to the landfill and cut down on pollution, he contended.
“Anything else is more environmentally-friendly than adding dozens of truck trips,” Franzen said. “I hope and pray to all powers that be that they listen to us.”
The city council will continue to explore the matter during an upcoming workshop.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• awarded a bid in the amount of $68,315 to Veit, of Rogers, for the demolition of the former Quik Shop at 125 Woodland Road. All structures will be demolished, tanks will be removed, and the holes will be filled and compacted. The Economic Development Authority purchased the site for $325,000 to be remediated and sold for development.
• approved the purchase of workstation computers/tablet hardware and software purchases for the administration office, senior center, finance, public works, fire department, motor vehicle department, and community service office, for an amount not to exceed $27,000.
• appointed Emily Grinnell as a probationary-status firefighter.
• established an absentee ballot board for accepting and rejecting absentee ballots; and appointed four additional election judges for the Presidential National Primary, Aug. 11 primary election, and Nov. 3 general election.