Public comments are being sought for the proposed upgrade and expansion of East Gull Lake wastewater treatment facility.
The expansion plan received preliminary approval from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA is handling the public comment period and has a comment deadline of May 2.
East Gull Lake plans to upgrade and expand the capacity of one of its two wastewater treatment plants. The proposal calls for an average wet weather flow of 363,000 gallons per day -- an increase of 222,800 gallons from the present facility's capacity.
The city's current wastewater treatment facility consists of two separate sites -- the north plant on Gull Point and the south plant, called the Pine Beach facility. The north plant is designed for an average wet weather flow of 33,400 gallons per day. The south plant, which is the one proposed for the expansion, is currently designed for 140,200 gallons per day.
The city's wastewater treatment permit was issued on Nov. 5, 1998, and expires Aug. 31. The MPCA reported its commission made a preliminary determination to reissue the city's permit for a period of about five years.
David Kavanaugh, East Gull Lake Council member and wastewater committee chairman, said the permit does not mention anything about an expanded collection system, but he checked with the MPCA and found that is the standard way the legal permit is presented.
Because East Gull Lake has a collection system in place, it is not included in the permit writing that addresses the discharge amounts more specifically. But Kavanaugh said if the public has comments on the collection system, the MPCA will undoubtedly look at those.
The MPCA will decide if the level of public comment is enough to trigger a public hearing.
"They make that decision. It has nothing to do with the city," Kavanaugh said today.
But Kavanaugh expects the city will hear from the MPCA shortly after the May deadline. An MPCA extension permit is required to extend the collection system. A decision on that permit is expected by April 23 and Kavanaugh said the MPCA told him there will not be a public comment period on that.
Written comments on the draft permit for the wastewater expansion must include: a statement of an individual's interest; a statement of action the person wants the MPCA to take, including specific references to parts of the draft people believe should be changed; and reasons supporting the individual's position.
The MPCA stated people also may request a public informational meeting. As part of the request, people should include issues the MPCA should address. Another option is a petition for a contested case hearing before an administrative law judge. The MPCA has a list of legal reasons regarding the threshold for granting a contested case hearing. A petition also may be made to request the MPCA Citizens' Board to consider the permit.
If no written comments or petitions are made by May 2, the MPCA will make its final decision based on the draft permit.
A draft permit is available for review at the MPCA's Brainerd area office located on College Road in Baxter and at East Gull Lake City Hall. A copy of the draft may be mailed to individuals if the MPCA receives a request at their lakes area office.
The next East Gull Lake City Council meeting is set May 6.
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