City of Albert Lea, local legislators working to upgrade wastewater treatment plant

(ABC 6 News) – The City of Albert Lea is working with local legislators to get $30 million for an upgrade at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The plant treats 3.5 million gallons of wastewater every day. At 40 years old, the city said the plant is beyond its expected life span.

"We’re asking for the state to contribute back what it knows it will gain as a result of keeping those jobs here. And quite frankly, a plant that we’re designing to allow for expansion and growth as well," Ian Rigg, Albert Lea’s city manager said.

The city is planning to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant, a project that’s estimated to cost $60 million.

As part of the project, the city will look for ways to improve energy efficiency and generate green energy.

Rep. Peggy Bennett (R – Albert Lea) said, "To me, we should be doing a cost-benefit analysis as a government and deciding is the cost of what bringing these phosphate levels down for the water treatment plant. Does it match the benefit that is really going to be given?"

Sen Gene Dornink (R – Hayfield) said, "We don’t ever think about it, right? But it’s one of the key infrastructure pieces in these small communities so we’ll just see how it works out. But we’re hoping that we can get some of them done, and as I said, it’s going to take some time to get all of them fixed."

Rep. Bennett also said she believes when state government mandates something, then state government should pay for it.

There is a public hearing and resolution approval on the agenda for the February 14 Albert Lea City Council meeting.

The Austin wastewater treatment plant has been asking for money for several years, and they are number four on the state’s list of projects waiting for public funding.