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GreenStep City Best Practices Environmental Management

Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems
no. 20

Assess and improve city drinking water and wastewater systems and related facilities.
  Best Practice Action 1      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ]       [all actions]

Compare the energy use and financial performance of your facilities with other peer plants using standardized, free tools.

  • The Minnesota Buildings, Benchmarks and Beyond (B3) database automatically records DMR data the city submits to the MPCA and places it on the city's B3 web page. B3 then allows cities to routinely enter and track energy use at waste water treatment plants and receive an official (or unofficial for flows under .6 MG/D) Energy Star Portfolio Manager score from 1-100 that compares the performance of your plant to those nationwide. B3 can also be used to track lift station and drinking water data.
  • The U.S. EPA's Check Up Program for Small Systems is a free, easy-to-use asset management tool for small drinking water and wastewater utilities.
  • See the SB 2030 Wastewater Treatment Plant Review Process and EPA's Energy Efficiency for Water Utilities.
  • Contact the free POTW experts at the MN Technical Assistance Program for audit and other types of assistance.
  • The MN Auditor's Infrastructure Stress Transparency Tool reports 5 years of data on the sewer and drinking water fiscal performance of city enterprise funds for sewer and water plants. Additional information also available.
  • For facilities paying a demand charge for electricity, installing power factor correction equipment and/or storing methane from anaerobic digestion to generate peaking power will yield cost-savings due to lower energy demand charges.
  • Ductile iron pipe for drinking water mains has stronger walls, allowing a larger inside diameter, reducing friction and thus saving energy. According to St. Cloud’s Pumping Cost Study (July 2014), the city's use of ductile iron pipe (certified under the SMaRT standard ) results in an annual savings of $210,530 compared to competing pipe, measuring power cost, pump efficiency, and head loss.
  • See an award-winning strategy employed by Madelia in 2014 for reuse of bio-solid storage lagoons and 7 2018 case studies of low-cost, no-cost energy efficiency opportunities that were implemented that reduced WWTP energy use between 5-30% and saved each plant an average of $13,000 in annual energy costs.
Calculate your waste water plant's benchmark by dividing average daily energy use by typical flow in MGD (millions of gallons per day); report energy use for drinking water produced and delivered in kWh per 1,000 gallons (typically between 0.25 to 3.5 kWh). Report water system losses under action 20.3; report protection efforts that sustain facility function during extreme weather under action 29.7
Use B3, Portfolio Manager or the like to report several years of historic data; note how your water and waste water facilities compare to similar plants; report awards for plant excellence.
Report that the Sewer, and Drinking Water, Enterprise funds (using data from https://www.auditor.state.mn.us/maps ) have had 5+ years Positive Net Income; rank in the best 25% of Upper Midwest peer plants.


Date action report first entered:   07/08/2016
Date of last report update:   07/08/2016

Implementation details:
Data on energy consumption from the Waste Water Treatment Plant has been on B3 Benchmarking since 2007.

Descriptive links: https://mn.b3benchmarking.com/Report?OrganizationID=184&ReturnTo=Cities

For more information contact:
Al Gorick (City staff)   |   al.gorick@ci.bemidji.mn.us   |   218-333-1865

View All Bemidji Actions

Golden Valley

Date action report first entered:   12/05/2017
Date of last report update:   12/05/2017
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The City is a member of the Joint Water Commission (JWC) along with the cities of Crystal and New Hope. The JWC purchases drinking water from the City of Minneapolis, which draws its water supply from the Mississippi River. The JWC owns two water storage reservoirs from which water is pumped to three above-ground water tanks and through pipelines that serve all three cities. One of the reservoirs is located in Golden Valley and one is located in Crystal. Golden Valley provides financial services for the JWC and therefore receives and pays all energy bills. Golden Valley uses the B3 benchmarking database to compare the energy usage of its water reservoir to peer plants.

Outcome measures/metrics:
The average daily flow for the three cities that make up the JWC is 4.75 MGD. Between June of 2016 and June of 2017, the average daily electric usage for the Golden Valley reservoir was 2,043 kWh per day. During that same time, the average daily electric usage for the Crystal reservoir was 2,834 kWh per day. Therefore, the JWC pumps and delivers drinking water at a rate of 1.0267 kWh per 1,000 gallons.

Descriptive links: http://www.goldenvalleymn.gov/watersewer/water/

For more information contact:
Joe Hansen (City staff)   |   jhansen@goldenvalleymn.gov   |   763-593-8038

View All Golden Valley Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/30/2015
Date of last report update:   04/30/2015

Implementation details:
The City has utilized B3 Benchmarking, internal data tracking programs, and has communicated energy usage results with local peer plants in an effort to gauge our efficiency. The tools available have proven the best measuring stick is your own plant due to the wide range of treatment technologies, flow, loading variables, differing regulatory requirements, etc. By actively benchmarking our operations by in-line data collection and daily data assessments we have been able to implement improvements that save energy, chemicals, water, and time.

            view file

For more information contact:
John Paulson (City staff)   |   jpaulson@ci.hutchinson.mn.us   |   320-234-5682

View All Hutchinson Actions

North Branch

Date action report first entered:   04/09/2019
Date of last report update:   04/09/2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
MPCA recognizes North Branch wastewater facilities for operational excellence. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is recognizing 334 Minnesota wastewater treatment facilities for maintaining outstanding permit compliance from October 2017 through September 2018.

Descriptive links: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/wastewater-treatment-facility-operations-award

For more information contact:
Shawn Williams Publicworks Director (City staff)   |   shawnw@ci.north-branch.mn.us   |   (651) 674-8493

View All North Branch Actions

Saint Cloud

Date action report first entered:   05/17/2017
Date of last report update:   05/17/2017
Year action initially completed:   2016
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
Utility billing data has been entered into B3 for the City's drinking water and wastewater treatment facility. B3 just added data that allows wastewater treatment facilities to be benchmarked against others for peer review.

For more information contact:
Tracy Hodel (City staff)   |   tracy.hodel@ci.stcloud.mn.us   |   3202557226

View All Saint Cloud Actions

Albert Lea

Date action report first entered:   07/21/2016
Date of last report update:   07/21/2016

Implementation details:
The City of Albert Lea conducted an energy audit at the WWTP in 2012. The City is using the B3 Benchmarking database to compare energy usage to peer plants.

For more information contact:
Jerry Gabrielatos (City staff)   |   jgabrielatos@ci.albertlea.mn.us   |   507-377-4316

View All Albert Lea Actions

Columbia Heights

Date action report first entered:   12/22/2014
Date of last report update:   12/22/2014

Implementation details:
The City's Comprehensive plan (see link Chapter 9) requires the water distribution system to complete an engineering study and CIP every 5 years (see attached report cover) to look for water losses, flow and pressure evaluations, and infrastructure improvements to improve efficiency of the system.

Descriptive links: http://www.ci.columbia-heights.mn.us/index.aspx?nid=198             view file

For more information contact:
Jesse Davies (City staff)   |   Jesse.Davies@ci.columbia-heights.mn.us   |   763-706-3706

View All Columbia Heights Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/03/2015
Date of last report update:   04/19/2016

Implementation details:
The Engineering Department does compare energy use of Crystal facilities with peer facilities on an on-going basis. Crystal volunteered to be one of the guinea pigs for automatic reporting of city buildings.

For more information contact:
Anne Norris (City staff)   |   Anne.Norris@crystalmn.gov   |   763-531-1140

View All Crystal Actions

Elk River

Date action report first entered:   06/07/2011

Implementation details:
The City has just started tracking the Elk River Wastewater Treatment Plant on Energy Star Portfolio manager. Staff hopes to receive metric data soon.

Descriptive links: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=evaluate_performance.bus_portfoliomanager

For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff)   |   ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov   |   763-635-1068

View All Elk River Actions

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Date action report first entered:   04/15/2015
Date of last report update:   04/15/2015

Implementation details:
This has been done with a pilot project with two communities by housing and U of M extension program. Outreach provided additionally through ISTS program.

For more information contact:
Brandy Toft (City staff)   |   air@lldrm.org   |   218-335-7429

View All Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Actions

Kasson pending

Date action report first entered:   05/13/2011

Implementation details:
Underway: The City will be comparing the energy use and performance of our facilities with other peer plants.

For more information contact:
Nancy Zaworski (City staff)   |   financedept@cityofkasson.com   |   507-634-6321

View All Kasson Actions

Maplewood pending

Date action report first entered:   03/22/2012
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
The city of Saint Paul owns and operates all the water processing plants that supply the city of Maplewood.

For more information contact:
Steve Love (City staff)   |   steve.love@maplewoodmn.gov   |   651-249-2404

View All Maplewood Actions

Red Wing pending

Date action report first entered:   01/30/2013

Implementation details:
B3 Benchmarking allows for peer comparison, however, B3 is not a good tool for measuring Water Treatment Plants. Because of that, the water treatment plants were taken out of the B3 program (no longer tracking - historical data is still entered in the program). Energy Star's Portfolio Manager would be a better choice to compare water treatement plants, but Red Wing has not set up portfolio manager

For more information contact:
Paul Drotos (City staff)   |   paul.drotos@ci.red-wing.mn.us   |   651-410-6744

View All Red Wing Actions

Shoreview pending

Date action report first entered:   05/01/2013

Implementation details:
The City does not yet have a wastewater facility but are in the planning stages of constructing one.

For more information contact:
Ellen Brenna (City staff)   |   ebrenna@shoreviewmn.gov   |   651-490-4665

View All Shoreview Actions

Woodbury pending

Date action report first entered:   04/27/2013

Implementation details:
The City of Woodbury provides drinking water from aquifers. The system uses 17 wells to supply the water to residents. The city treats water at the well house with chlorine and fluoride. Woodbury does not operate a waste water plant. Woodbury has a pass through system in which we do not treat the wastewater; it is gravity fed to two different locations for treatment. The two locations are Eagles Point in Cottage Grove and MCES in St. Paul.

For more information contact:
Jennifer McLoughlin (City staff)   |   jmcloughlin@ci.woodbury.mn.us   |   651-714-3522

View All Woodbury Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Brent Vizanko, Assoc. Engineer, Minnesota Technical Assistance Program: 612/624-4653, bvizan@umn.edu, http://mntap.umn.edu/us/staff.htm