Public information meeting on Worthington wastewater permit variance request is Thursday

MPCA hosting virtual meeting at 5 p.m.

091220 N DG Water treament plant S1.jpg
These water filtration domes at the Worthington wastewater treatment plant are expected to be replaced when a planned new plant comes online in 2023. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will be hosting a virtual public meeting via Webex at 5 p..m. Thursday to present information and take questions about a proposed water quality standard variance for the city of Worthington wastewater treatment plant. More details and login information are available on the MPCA water quality variance web page .

While rebuilding its aging waste water treatment plant, the city of Worthington still has some work to do about reducing the amount of chlorides — salt — in the treated effluent sent to Okabena Creek.

Worthington is proposing to replace major portions of the plant because it has reached the end of its design life. Both the existing and new plant have the potential to exceed a water quality standard for chloride because the current treatment options for doing so are too costly. The city has applied for a variance to the chloride standard, allowing time to work on reducing chloride. A draft permit including the variance request is available for public review and comment through Feb. 12.

Minnesota has a growing salty water problem that threatens its freshwater fish and other aquatic life. 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.

Wastewater treatment facilities can be major contributors of chloride to lakes and rivers. In the Des Moines River Watershed , the Worthington waste water treatment plant is among several contributing to a downstream impairment. The variance will not further impair the water, and will put the city on a path to reduce chloride discharging to Okabena Creek.


The construction will not change the location of the plant, the location of the discharge to Okabena Creek, or the facility’s wet-weather design flow of 4.0 million gallons per day (mgd). The average dry-weather design flow will be increasing from 1.45 mgd to 2.15 mgd, but this will not result in an increase of the permitted pollutant load discharged from the facility. The facility’s current permit expired on March 31, 2016.

The draft permit and related documents are available on the MPCA water quality variance web page. The MPCA encourages interested parties to send correspondence to the agency electronically, so it can respond more efficiently. Submit comments to or: Ashley Wahl, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 504 Fairgrounds Road., Ste. 200, Marshall 56258. For information in Spanish, contact Jose Luis Villasenor, (651) 757-2575,

Written comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 12. Comments must include a statement of the respondent’s interest in the report, and the action requested of the MPCA, including specific references to sections of the draft document(s) that should be changed, and the reasons for making those changes.

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