The city of Brainerd will wait for an undetermined amount of time before acting on a request from Baxter for additional capacity at Brainerd's wastewater treatment facility.
The Brainerd City Council Monday unanimously approved putting Baxter's request on hold until City Engineer Jeff Hulsether determines the city's flow projections for the wastewater treatment facility. Council members Bob Olson and Lucy Nesheim were absent from Monday's meeting.
Once Hulsether's numbers are brought back to the council, the council will schedule a joint meeting with the Brainerd Public Utilities Commission. City Administrator Dan Vogt said that meeting could take place in January or February, though the council took no action on a date Monday.
Baxter is seeking an increase from 650,000 gallons per day, under the current interim agreement, to 750,000 gallons to cover increases in residential and commercial use in light of delays in Brainerd receiving a permit to construct an expansion at its current wastewater facility. Both cities have an interim agreement in place ahead of the expansion, of which Baxter will pay a third of the cost.
At its Nov. 20 meeting, the Baxter City Council was presented with its flow projections, which showed significant increases in the city between 2008 and 2012.
In a letter to the Brainerd City Council, Baxter Mayor Darrel Olson noted that in Baxter city staffers' discussions with BPU officials there is between 400,000 and 600,000 gallons per day of capacity left before loading limits are reached and about 1.6 million gallons per remaining capacity before exceeding daily flow amounts described in its permit.
Construction on the $35 million expansion of Brainerd's wastewater treatment facility was scheduled to begin in the spring of 2007, with operation beginning in 2009. The permit application for the expanded facility was being considered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency before a encountering a series of roadblocks, including the possibility of legal action by an environmental advocacy group and the discovery of a pollutant in Brainerd's wastewater treatment facility.
"It has become clear to all parties involved that the Expanded (wastewater treatment plant) will not be on line by 2009, since plant construction will take at least 18 months from the date the MPCA issues the permit," Olson wrote. "At the point, the date that the MPCA expects to re-notice the permit and supplemental (environmental worksheet) is unknown."
Because of unanswered questions, Olson said Baxter could not commit to paying capital costs for a project that no longer assures that it will provide the needed wastewater services for Baxter.
"Baxter's wastewater needs must be addressed during the unanticipated, but now inevitable, construction delays for the Expanded WWTP," Olson wrote.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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