The Brainerd Wastewater Treatment Plant could be at its maximum design capacity in less than seven years, according to projections by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Reed Larson and Ron Swenson, both with the MPCA, discussed the future of wastewater treatment needs in the Brainerd area to the Brainerd Public Utilities Commission Tuesday.
Swenson said when looking at the growth in the area and the development of wastewater flow in Brainerd that the city would need to treat 87,600 additional gallons of wastewater each year. He said with this amount of new flow the treatment facility would be at its design capacity in less than seven years.
Swenson said the projected numbers do not include new wastewater flows from commercial and industrial businesses, which would mean the treatment facility would be at full capacity much earlier than the predicted seven years.
Two-thirds of the new wastewater flow is being generated from growth in Baxter, which is hooked into Brainerd's wastewater collection system, said Swenson.
In 2001, Brainerd, Baxter, East Gull Lake and Crow Wing and Cass counties, with assistance from the MPCA, received a $10,000 grant from the Initiative Foundation to study collaborative solutions to growing needs for wastewater treatment in the area. The government units cooperated as part of a regional wastewater task force to identify efficient, cost-effective and sustainable wastewater treatment services for the area.
Larson offered a few suggestions to Brainerd on how to deal with the additional capacity. He said the city could do an expansion of the existing facility to accommodate the additional discharge. If the city decides to do this, Brainerd would first be required to determine whether there are any feasible alternatives to expanding its current treatment plant.
Larson said Brainerd should look into all feasible alternatives to take care of growing wastewater treatment needs that would be economical as well as safe to the environment. These options could include holding tanks, recycling or reuse, spray irrigation, cluster systems or a managed on-site system. Larson also said the city should discuss potential treatment technologies for future phosphorus reductions.
During Larson's and Swenson's presentation, they also said Brainerd needs to discuss its inflow and infiltration problem. Inflow and infiltration is the presence of clear water, such as snow melt and rain entering the wastewater collection system, which causes overflows at the pump stations.
MPCA also recommends that Brainerd should talk with other municipalities on wastewater treatment needs and how it can partner up with them to save money.
"You should plan for 20 years ahead and ask yourself where does Brainerd want to be," said Larson. "Then look at volume and the alternatives. Don't look at the quick fix."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.