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MPCA reps discuss WWTP project

On a scale of 1 to 10, the arrogance recently shown Glencoe City Council members by three representatives of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) may have broken the scale.
The three MPCA “gentlemen” were called into a City Council workshop session to help quash a mini-rebellion of council members who had the audacity to question the city’s planned $20 million to $23 million wastewater treatment plant renovation/expansion of an aging facility.
The rebels had learned that several completely new wastewater plants were being built in Iowa for $12 million to $20 million. That’s brand new! They asked questions, and that apparently sent shockwaves throughout the planning process.
The treatment plant projects are designed to meet the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for clean water. The communities in Iowa are similar in size and makeup to Glencoe, and two are larger cities.
Basically, all treatment plants now need to address levels of phosphorus and nitrogen going into waterways by redesigning their treatment capabilities at a cost of millions of dollars.
Since it is a federal mandate, should not all states have the same standards?
Apparently not. The MPCA “experts” said while it is a federal mandate, states have the ability to set their own standards. They claim Iowa has lower standards, implying water quality may be inferior to Minnesota’s.
A look from a different angle: Maybe Minnesota’s standards are too restrictive, and unrealistic. Why should Minnesotans spend billions of dollars to keep such a small amount of chemicals from entering our waterways. Maybe Iowa has better, not lower standards.
Anyone who has dealt with the MPCA knows the agency and its minions are accountable to no one. They make the rules, enforce the rules and apply the punishment. In other words they are the judge, prosecutor and jury combined.
What the MPCA really wanted to emphasize to Glencoe council members is that the state, not local units of government, hold all the cards in this expensive charade. And here’s what you are going to do, or else!
In that respect, at least the MPCA reps were honest.
But it was a classic “donkey and the carrot” approach. Instead of a carrot dangling in front of the donkey to get it to move, the state uses a promise of money. It seems money trumps logic every time.
The state has set aside millions of dollars for treatment plant upgrades, including several million for Glencoe. It also has supplementary funds available if the city council members behave themselves and do what the MPCA tells them. That increases the dollar incentive by several more millions.
In all, the city could (emphasis on could) get about half of the project cost paid through the state. But that leaves another half to be picked up by city taxpayers and utility ratepayers. By the way, the utility rates have already gone up if you haven’t noticed.
What the rebelling council members want is a second opinion. But if they delay this runaway freight train of a plan, they could lose the financial carrot. So it already may be too late to change the plan. The train has already left the station.
Regardless, the MPCA made it very clear, Glencoe will be in compliance by 2023. Now whether Glencoe City Council goes along peacefully is yet to be seen.
The other option available to the MPCA is to hit the city right between the ears with a 2-by-4.
Not sure where that fits on the subtlety scale.