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September 27, 2020

9/11/2020 8:40:00 AM
Chisago Lakes sewage treatment Veolia contract gets thumbs up

The Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commission handed over the operations of the regional wastewater system to Veolia Water North America, LLC last week.  A special meeting was called to finalize the draft contract for the private company’s services and Veolia WNA should be assuming responsibilities September 14.  

The wastewater collection and treatment plant assets continue to be held and stay under the control of, the commission.  The contract calls for expenditures of $2,500 or more on say, a plant modification, to go through the commission.   Otherwise the Veolia team will provide the labor and management of the operations for a fee of $614,667 annually.

The contract is good for five years and is negotiable depending on operations;  if there’s a new customer added that makes an impact on systems-- a large new development or industry for example.  This is because Veolia is managing the system based on certain permitted finished discharged wastewater standards--including phosphorus, nitrogen, and dissolved solids.  

Transitioning of employees to Veolia was simple; there was just one commission employee still in the mix, and he opted to go with Veolia.  

The commission is in the midst of a rash of expected retirements amongst the longtime public wastewater workforce;  and part of the reason elected officials on the commission opted for a private operator, was due to applicants the commission reviewed from the job market not meeting the skills and knowledge of the departing employees.

Members in the CLJSTC are the cities of Stacy, Wyoming, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Center City and the county has flow capacity reserved for the Government Center.  The South Center Sanitary District provides wastewater treatment for Hazelden and nearby residential parcels on the lake.  

Members have been notified of the switch to  private sector operations and that there could be a rate increase to cover costs of contracting.

Tom Holt, representing the South Center Sanitary District, was hoping to learn more about the sewer rates and asked what’s being projected.  (The sanitary district doesn’t have an actual voting seat.)

He said the district is small and doesn’t have an entire municipal or county budget from which to find money to cover any increase.  Autumn is when levy amounts and next year cost projections are finalized, he reminded the commission members.

Analysis on increased cost of the contract and what it will translate to in rate hikes has not been reported as yet. There’s estimates that 20 cents per thousand gallons of flow might be needed.  There is a budget meeting of the commission September 21, Holt was advised.

Center City’s rep Scott Anderson asked about terminating the contract if the commission is unhappy for any reason.  The contract includes a 120 day notice prior to the end of the five years to end the terms.

Stacy substitute commission liaison Mark Ness said his city would like to see periodic accounting and reports-- and the commission said this is required in the contract for monthly intervals right now.

Lindstrom Council member David Waldoch serves on the commission and he made a motion to authorize up to $10,000 for Veolia to handle an issue having to do with chlorine products, a required measure under the federal emissions laws.  This was approved by all.

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