Brainerd Public Utilities hired Barr and BDM Consulting Engineers to prepare a plan for treating wastewater for the coming 20 years, including identifying an efficient, reliable technology to treat the water to high environmental standards. Our team began by evaluating the capacity and remaining useful life of the existing facility and estimating the area’s future population, flow, and loading.
We then assessed the ability of several technologies to meet probable future NPDES permit limits, which included developing and applying screening criteria to eliminate inadequate options. After preparing detailed capital and O&M cost estimates for the remaining technologies, we worked with plant operators and staff to arrive at the equipment best suited to BPU’s needs, goals, and budget: sequencing batch reactors (SBRs). Finally, we designed the treatment system, prepared plans and specs, helped bid the project for construction, provided on-site construction observation, and managed construction change orders to within less than 1 percent of construction costs.
Meanwhile, we assisted BPU with the complex process of obtaining its NPDES permit for discharge to the Mississippi River, which is recognized by the state as a water body of exceptional value. We also helped negotiate a politically sensitive sewer-use agreement with the nearby city of Baxter, which included allocation of sewer-use and -capacity charges.
After the new treatment plant was constructed, Barr trained the operators and assisted with startup. The SBR facility is the largest of its kind in Minnesota, and continues to keep phosphorus, suspended solids, and other substances in its effluent well below discharge limits.