The Austin City Council was given an overview of the city’s expansion and phosphorus reduction plan at its wastewater treatment facility at a work session following their regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening at Austin City Hall.

Public Works Director Steven Lang stated to the council that the project, which has been in the planning stages for five years is needed due to the fact that most of the buildings from the plant’s 1939 expansion are still in use today, and that the current facility will not meet the city’s future needs.  Lang presented the council with five different alternatives, with his department recommending the second alternative presented that would feature a combined activated sludge treatment process that would cost approximately $78 million. Lang stated that advantages of the second alternative would include a treatment system effective for current water quality standards and that it would also set up effectively for future standards.  He added that the project would be planned for chemical phosphorus removal, but biological removal would also be possible. Lang went on to state that cons would include operators learning a new system, and that the process would generate large volumes of biosolids.

Lang went on to state to the council that the cost of the project to start would be funded 45-48% by domestic customers and 52-55% by industrial.  He added that the cost to users could be lowered to $51-$55 million with bonding requests to the Minnesota Legislature of $7.5 million in 2020, and again in 2022, a point source implementation grant that could total up to $7 million and a Green Project Reserve Grant that could total up to $1 million.  Lang stated to the council that planning for the project also included a 25% rate increase in 2018, and a 7% rate increase per year from 2019 to 2023, which would leave a proposed 2023 rate of $49.05 per month. He added that if the project would move forward as proposed, work would start in June of 2021 and would be completed in 2025. 

A public hearing on the proposed plan will be held at the Austin City Council’s meeting coming up on December 2nd.