Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion
Capacity increase means being prepared for Owatonna’s future growth
On May 3, 2022, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt two Resolutions regarding the Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion Project. Through these resolutions, a $55,741,600 bid for the project was accepted and the project was awarded to Rice Lake Construction Group with engineering services awarded to Nero Engineering. All three project bids submitted exceeded the preliminary estimated cost due to supply chain challenges and increases in construction costs. These increases are based on inflation due to labor and material shortages although the design for the plant remains largely unchanged. “It's our jobs to be stewards of the community,” said Council Member Kevin Raney, “It is what we need to do for the community’s future.”
An expansion of Owatonna’s existing wastewater treatment plant was initiated in 2017. The plant has been operating at or above its capacity for the past several years. In 2021, plans got underway to expand the plant from its current capacity of five million gallons per day (MGD) to more than nine MGD, an 80 percent increase. The expansion of the plant positions the community for future growth without further watershed degradation. Owatonna is one of just a few major discharge points in the Cannon River watershed. The technology used in the new plant will help ensure no additional degradation of the regional watershed, despite the increase in capacity. The plant expansion will utilize captured methane, clean it and funnel it into the City’s natural gas distribution system in partnership with Owatonna Public Utilities to expand renewable energy sources.
Nero Engineering assisted City staff in the bid process and evaluating current residential and industrial rates associated with the expansion project. To prepare for the plant’s expansion, the City began implementing incremental rate increases ten years ago so it can continue to meet the financial needs of the plant’s operations while maintaining affordability for residents and businesses. In addition to covering more than $3 million in project planning costs already, the City has also set aside $10 million in reserve funds for this expansion project. An additional $8 million in grant funds will be used to help cover project costs. Rates will need to be adjusted again due to the cost of the project exceeding expectations. The City has requested $22 million in state bonding funds to help cover project costs. The project is expected to begin in July and be completed in late 2024.
The City of Owatonna is committed to providing a community where residents and businesses can thrive. Known for its strong community, education and business culture, Owatonna provides a high quality of life for its residents. Located in southeastern Minnesota,