Hayfield Project To Boost Infrastructure, Local Water Quality

Created: 06/10/2014 5:40 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- A new multimillion dollar project to update Hayfield's aging wastewater treatment plant is entering its final phase. 

The end goal is to help better protect local waterways, but it's costing a pretty penny.

Crews are already preparing for the last phase of a nearly $4 million renovation project that began about two and a half hours ago.

And while the final $2.8 million addition still has to be approved by the city council, officials said it's long overdue.

"A lot of old equipment is being replaced,” said Paul O’Brien, the city superintendent. “The original plant was built in 1958 and it was updated in '88, and now we're finally updating it again."

The renovation will nearly double the plant's capacity, and part of the new addition will treat wastewater with ultraviolet lights instead of hazardous chlorine gas.

"The gas chlorine is a very expensive way of doing it, and it's dangerous for the guys working with it,” O’Brien said. “There's a little more maintenance with UV lighting than there is with chlorine, but it's a safer way to go."

And officials hope it will be safer for local wildlife as well.

The water treated in Hayfield winds up in Dodge Center Creek, eventually finding its way into the Zumbro River and Zumbro Lake, meaning the renovation is important not only for Hayfield, but for the entire region.

"We support these kinds of activities because we have essentially a lot of different sources coming into the watershed,” said Lawrence Svien, executive director of the Zumbro Watershed Partnership. “So when we can address one or two of them, it's a baby step, but it's in the right direction."

But who's paying for it?

Roughly $400,000 is covered by a state grant, but the remaining $3.6 million is being paid for by Hayfield taxpayers.

Officials expect to complete the project in October of 2015, and for many, that can't come soon enough.

"Anything we can do to reduce the bacteria, anything we can do to reduce coliform levels is a good thing,” Svien said.