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.
St. Cloud Green Hydrogen Award
St. Cloud was awarded a $1.09 million grant for the installation of renewable energy technologies at the St. Cloud Nutrient, Energy and Water Recovery Facility. The funds will be used for the development and installation of renewable natural gas and green hydrogen demonstration projects.
Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).
Watch Mayor Dave Kleis announce the project at St. Cloud's GovTV page.
Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemics, scientists have embraced various methods to more comprehensively track the spread of COVID-19 in communities and across the world. Tracking the spread of COVID-19 through wastewater has proven to be an incredibly effective tool for understanding the true spread of the disease. Scientists measure the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 viral materials present in wastewater to tell how the disease is spreading within a wastewater service area at a particular time.
This tracking is effective because it looks at an entire service area – nearly every person in the service area will be utilizing the wastewater treatment systems, so a more comprehensive, community-wide picture is able to be developed.
Regardless of whether or not a person is tested or even symptomatic, the viral load can be traced through their contributions to the wastewater treatment system. This is particularly valuable, because an increasing segment of the community may be performing at-home tests which may not be reported to state health officials.
Virus shedding begins before a person tests positive or shows symptoms, which means that the virus is detectable in wastewater before a person may seek a test or medical care. This advanced notice can help predict disease trends and provide early warning for future outbreaks.
Sampling in St. Cloud
St. Cloud started sampling and analysis of daily samples starting in January 2022. St. Cloud has a regional wastewater treatment facility and provides wastewater services to 6 cities: St. Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, St. Joseph, St. Augusta, and Waite Park. The facility treats roughly 10 million gallons per day. The COVID-19 data from the St. Cloud treatment facility reflects data across a wide service area.
Currently, the daily samples are being analyzed at the University of Minnesota Genomics Center. There are also samples being sent to the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical Center. These samples are an important service for providing community health updates and advancing scientific knowledge.
Phosphorous Recovery at the St. Cloud Nutrient, Energy, and Water Recovery Facility
Sustainability Initiatives at the Nutrient, Energy and Water Recovery Facility
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.