MPCA, city of Avon seek solutions to chloride in local wastewater

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Minnesota has a growing salty water problem that threatens its freshwater fish and other aquatic life. Chloride from de-icing salt and water softeners gets into lakes, streams and even groundwater. It takes only one teaspoon of salt to pollute five gallons of water. Once in the water, there is no easy way to remove it.

The city of Avon needs to start working to address chloride levels in its wastewater that discharges to Spunk Creek. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will host a public informational meeting on its intent to reissue the city of Avon’s wastewater treatment permit with a water quality standard variance specific to chloride. The meeting will be on Thursday, June 27, from 4:30-6:30 p.m., at Avon City Hall, 140 Stratford Street East.

“Chloride is a tough, but extremely important problem to tackle. The purpose of the variance is to give cities like Avon time to study the problem and develop solutions. The MPCA is also developing resources to work with cities on this salty water problem,” said Katrina Kessler, MPCA assistant commissioner for water.

Minnesota has some of the hardest water in the country, which prompts people to use water softeners. Water softeners need salt (which contains chloride) to recharge their softening capacity, and the resulting salty brine is discharged to municipal wastewater treatment plants in most cities. The plants are not designed to remove chloride from wastewater, so the chloride ends up in nearby water bodies, usually a lake or stream.

At the June 27 meeting in Avon, MPCA staff will provide information about the proposed permit and chloride variance, and give citizens the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments.

The draft permit is open for public comment until July 5. It is available for review on the MPCA’s Public Notice webpage, and scrolling to May 6.

For more information about Minnesota’s salty water problem, visit the MPCA’s Chloride 101 webpage.