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MPCA reprioritizes Reading wastewater issue, placing it in its top 10 projects

The unincorporated community of Reading, in Summit Lake Township, has been struggling to find a viable way to deal with its wastewater, following a 2012 MPCA notice.

FILE PHOTO: A welcome sign in Reading is shown on the morning of Friday, April 30, 2021. The unincorporated community is facing obstacles in establishing a centralized sewer district. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)
A welcome sign in Reading is shown on the morning of Friday, April 30, 2021. The unincorporated community is facing obstacles in establishing a centralized sewer district.
Tim Middagh / The Globe file photo
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WORTHINGTON — Reading’s wastewater woes have been listed as a top 10 project priority for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, meaning that up to 80% of the initial project costs could be eligible for reimbursement.

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In 2012, the MPCA issued a notice of violation for “discharges of inadequately treated sewage to the waters of the state from the unincorporated community of Reading.”
No decisions were made, nor votes taken on the matter, as Tuesday’s meeting was a work session only.
“We’ve been really fortunate as far as equipment goes. Things break when it gets cold. The guys have been really good about being careful.”

The Nobles County Board of Commissioners received information about the status shift during a Wednesday, Dec. 28, work session, after MPCA officials contacted engineer Peter Miller about possible funding resources on the project. Miller, of Stantec, had previously assisted the county with the Reading sanitary sewer issue.

The unincorporated community of Reading, in Summit Lake Township, has been struggling to find a viable way to deal with its wastewater, following a 2012 MPCA notice of violation sent because it was releasing sewage into a stream.

Commissioners once again discussed the options for dealing with the wastewater in a way that complies with state environmental regulations on Wednesday:

  • A hybrid mound system, which would require sufficient land for the systems. Currently, some of the properties have space for a mound system and some do not; additionally, people who do have room have been waiting to see if the issue will be dealt with in a more systematic way so that they don’t pay for the mound system only to pay again for another system when the project moves forward.
  • Piping wastewater to another town for treatment. Several neighboring cities have already said they do not have the capacity to treat Reading’s wastewater, however.
  • Building a pond system, which would require ongoing maintenance and operation costs.

Reading would have 36 hookups to the system.
Commissioner Justin Ahlers said he was concerned about the long-term recurring costs to the residents for a pond system.

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“If they gave them the pond system, I don’t think they could afford to operate the pond system,” he said.

“For 36 people, when we start talking millions and millions of dollars, is this the right way …?” asked Commissioner Donald Linssen. “You have to look at the value of the property, and the capacity to pay is not there for the 36 residences. The economics of it just does not work.”

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Commissioner Bob Paplow pointed out large recurring costs would be especially difficult for people living on fixed incomes, and said other small communities are in the same boat too.

Ahlers spoke about the many costs involved in a pond system, including purchasing a generator.

“Because of the poo police,” said Commissioner Bob Demuth, Jr.

No decisions were made, but commissioner consensus was to allow Miller to continue working on the matter.

In other news Wednesday, the board:

  • Shared a moment of silence for Vern Leistico, who had served on the board and died Dec. 9.
  • Received a report and 2022 update from the Nobles Soil & Water Conservation District.
  • Listened to a report from Veterans Service Officer James Dunn.
  • Heard from County Administrator Bruce Heitkamp that he was very proud of county workers’ efforts during last week’s severe weather, praising them for their hard work, communication and ability to make difficult decisions.
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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