Before 1956, wastewater in the City of St. Cloud was not treated. All wastewater from homes and businesses was dumped directly to the Mississippi River without treatment. The City of St. Cloud's first wastewater treatment facility was constructed in 1956 and was located near 4th Avenue South.
In 1972, the federal Clean Water Act allowed for funding to be distributed to communities to build wastewater treatment facilities to protect the health of the nation's waterways.
Since 1972, St. Cloud staff has embraced, and continues to expand upon, a paradigm shift that has taken St. Cloud’s wastewater treatment processes from sewage treatment, to wastewater treatment and now to resource recovery. Today, the St. Cloud Nutrient, Energy and Water (NEW) Recovery Facility is recognized locally, nationally, and internationally leader for their innovative wastewater treatment and resource recovery strategies.
The NEW Recovery Facility is located in south St. Cloud and services area communities including St. Augusta, St. Joseph, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, and Waite Park.
The St. Cloud NEW Recovery Facility has started several new energy efficiency initiatives, and is now producing renewable energy through solar panels and 2 biofuel generators. In 2020, the NEW Recovery Facility achieved many days at Net Zero - in other words, the facility often produced all of the energy needed to run the facility, onsite. In many cases, the facility was able to send energy back to the grid because the solar panels and biofuel generators produced more energy than the facility needed.