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Groundbreaking, in more ways than one

Groundbreaking ceremonies for Detroit Lakes' new $34 million wastewater treatment facility were held on Monday, April 9. (Submitted photo)

The City of Detroit Lakes' most ambitious — and expensive — building project to date officially got underway Monday afternoon, as groundbreaking ceremonies were held for its new $34 million wastewater treatment plant.

"This new facility is going to be state of the art," said Detroit Lakes Public Utilities General Manager Vernell Roberts," with membrane bioreactors (and) very high quality filtration... that's going to drive us into the next generation of wastewater treatment."

Roberts outlined the history of the project, which began in 2012 when the city started looking at re-permitting its existing wastewater facilities — and the state lowered the boom, imposing new, much stricter regulations regarding the plant's phosphorus emissions.

In 2013, the city retained the engineering services of Short Elliott Hendrickson to see them through the planning process for the new wastewater facilities, which would need to utilize groundbreaking technology in order to meet the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's stringent new standards for municipal wastewater treatment.

"We awarded the bids in November 2017, and here we are at groundbreaking day — woo hoo!" Roberts exclaimed, as onlookers chuckled appreciatively.

Roberts also outlined the process of funding the multi-million-dollar project, which involved working closely with local legislators during two sessions of the Minnesota Legislature, a visit from the governor and a lot of trips to the State Capitol.

"2017 turned out to be a fruitful session for us," Roberts said. "We did get additional grant money, which all in all brought in $17,040,000... to put toward funding the $34.3 million facility that we see is being built, starting today. A lot of work went into that, it turned out to be very, very beneficial."

The project, with Rice Lake Construction as the general contractor, has a final completion date of May 8, 2020, he added. "During the next couple of years you're going to see a lot of activity out here, a lot of big changes... we look forward to this project being done in 2020."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454