Weather Forecast


City's brass contemplates phosphorus credit trades with Mankato

Les Lange, assistant lab tech and safety coordinator at Willmar's wastewater treatment plant, tests water Wednesday at the plant. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- The city of Willmar could again trade phosphorus credits with the city of Mankato to reduce Minnesota River pollution until Willmar's new wastewater treatment plant begins operation.

Willmar complied with a state permit to reduce phosphorus in the Minnesota River Basin by trading ph-osphorus cr-edits with Mankato in 2008. The Willmar City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee is recommending the council approve another trading agreement with Mankato for 2009.

Willmar's Minnesota River Basin General Phosphorus Permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requires the city to make incremental reductions of phosphorus at the present wastewater treatment plant in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The MPCA has agreed, however, to let Willmar buy credits rather than spend more than a million dollars on phosphorus improvements at the present plant, explains Mel Odens, Willmar public works director.

"MPCA understands that cities are allowed to buy credits from another town,'' Odens said. "It's been a nice option for communities like Willmar because the city had contemplated spending over $1.2 million at the old plant to meet the limits in 2008, and MPCA allowed us to trade with another community (that meets the limits) because that money would have been wasted.''

Willmar's new treatment plant, under construction about five miles west of the city and scheduled to be completed in late 2010, will meet the new phosphorus limits, he said. Until then, a similar agreement will be considered in 2010, Odens said.

Willmar paid $28,406.75 to buy credits from Mankato last year, down from the $30,000 budgeted for credits. The council has budgeted $30,000 for credits in 2009, said Odens.

He said the requirement to reduce phosphorus also affects other cities in the Minnesota River Basin.

In other business, the Public Works/Safety Committee Tuesday recommended the council raise the city's maximum allowable state aid street mileage by 1.50 miles. Odens recommended the additional miles because the city has grown and added streets.

Odens said cities are allowed to have 20 percent of street mileage in the state aid system. He said credits drawn on those streets can be used for improvements over the entire street system. Odens said Tom Behm, state district state aid engineer, has concurred with the revision.

The revision adds the following segments: 15th Street Southwest from 19th Avenue Southwest to 28th Avenue Southwest (.50 mile) and 28th Avenue Southwest from First Street to 15th Street Southwest (1 mile).

Among other agenda items, the committee:

? Approved the final payment of $40,809 on the $853,297 contract to Duininck Bros. of Prinsburg for improvements on 19th Avenue Southeast as part of the Water View Business Park development. The final payment represents the 5 percent retained by the city until all work is completed.

? Approved the low bid of $16,393 from Willmar Electric Service for providing and installing street lights in 2009. The bid was below the engineer's estimate of $17,634. Two higher bids were received from Willmar Municipal Utilities for $17,302 and Granite Ledge Electrical at $26,324.

? Received the March wastewater treatment facility progress report from Rhonda Rae, program manager for Donohue and Associates. Among other things, Rae said she continues to work with the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority and MPCA to secure additional project funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the federal stimulus program.