Hayfield to improve sewage treatment for better water quality

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Rochester, Minn.—The City of Hayfield is planning improvements to its wastewater treatment plant that will benefit downstream waters, including the Zumbro River. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is accepting comments on an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for the project through June 25. Under state rules, the city completed this environmental review because the project requires major changes to the treatment plant’s state and federal permits for wastewater discharge.

Hayfield, with a population of 1,300, is located in southern Dodge County between Rochester and Austin. Its wastewater treatment plant was built in 1958 and has had several upgrades since then. The city is planning to make more upgrades this summer. One upgrade will be almost doubling the maximum capacity of the plant to 780,000 gallons of wastewater per day. This expanded capacity will improve wastewater treatment for current residents and future growth expected by the community.

A second upgrade will be using new equipment and processes to remove more phosphorus from the wastewater discharge. Phosphorus is a nutrient that can lead to algae overgrowth in rivers and lakes, harming habitat for fish and other aquatic life as well as limiting recreation. In addition, plans call for installing a new disinfection system to reduce bacteria in the wastewater discharge. The current system uses chlorine for disinfection; the new system will consist of a series of ultraviolet lights.

These upgrades will help reduce phosphorus and bacteria in downstream waters. The Hayfield plant discharges its treated wastewater to a ditch that flows to Dodge Center Creek, and ultimately to the Zumbro River and Zumbro Lake. Because phosphorus and bacteria levels in these waters violate state water quality standards at times, the state has assigned limits to wastewater treatment plants for these pollutants in their discharges .  Hayfield is making these upgrades to meet those limits. This work is part of a nationwide effort under the federal Clean Water Act to identify and clean up pollution in streams, rivers and lakes.

The Environmental Assessment Worksheet provides basic information about how a proposed project could affect the environment and helps determine whether an Environmental Impact Statement, a more comprehensive environmental review, is needed. The Hayfield worksheet is available on the MPCA website at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/oxpg691. Comments, which must be in writing, should go to Patrice Jensen, MPCA project manager, at patrice.jensen@state.mn.us or 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN  55155. The city’s wastewater treatment permit is also on public notice through June 25 and available online by going to http://www.pca.state.mn.us, clicking on “Public Notices” and scrolling down to May 23.