Breckenridge part of basin-wide phosphorus reduction plan

Breckenridge, Minnesota, is one of five cities that are partnering to participate in the Red River Basin Commission’s (RRBC) basin-wide phosphorus reduction planning effort. The city council passed a resolution Monday, July 1, stating that the five cities are working together to address mutual concerns about the reviewed approach with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and to develop an alternative framework to achieve phosphorus reductions in the river basin. Collaborating with Breckenridge are the cities of Moorhead, Roseau, Thief River Falls and Warroad.

Breckenridge owns and operates a wastewater treatment plant that discharges into the Red River Basin and holds a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and State Disposal System Permit (NPDES/SDS) that may be subject to further regulation due to MPCA’s revised approach for implementing Total Phosphorus Effluent Limits into the Red River Basin in Minnesota.

Significant investments by Breckenridge and the other Red River cities have been made in their wastewater treatment plants and they have made progress voluntarily reducing their phosphorus discharges. The RRBC is also engaged in a basin-wide phosphorus reduction strategy and planning effort.

The MPCA has proposed to continue to work in collaboration with the Red River cities to develop an adaptive management approach to reduce phosphorus in the Red River that seeks to address the cities’ collective concerns and improve water quality in the river, the resolution states.

The city of Breckenridge is generally supportive of the proposed adaptive management approach proposed by the MPCA, contingent upon reaching agreement with MPCA on critical details of the adaptive management approach and specific permit requirements.

The proposed adaptive management approach contemplates that Breckenridge and the Red River Basin cities participate in the RRBC-led phosphorus reduction strategy and planning effort and potentially a future MPCA-led stakeholder process.

Through the resolution, the Breckenridge City Council has authorized the mayor, city administrator and other city staff as they may designate, to continue to work collectively with the Red River Basin cities to achieve Breckenridge’s goals with respect to the permit and phosphorus reduction in the Red River Basin. Those designated are authorized to work in good faith with the MPCA to negotiate an agreement regarding the details of the proposed adaptive management approach and any city specific NPDES/SDS permit requirements, as well as work in good faith with the RRBC basin-wise phosphorus reduction strategy planning effort and future stakeholder process as needed to achieve the city’s interests.

Ongoing participation in the stakeholder processes will be contingent upon reaching an agreement with MPCA regarding the details of the adaptive management approach and specific NPDES/SDS permit requirements for the city, the resolution states.

In other council action, a resolution was passed adopting a water emergency preparedness plan. The plan will ensure that water resources are managed correctly in a time of water crisis. The mayor is the designated authority to make the determination that the need exists to implement a water crisis action plan., upon recommendation of the Public Works Director, and shall proclaim the water emergency.

The mayor will notify the public of the crisis and the measures that must be implemented to deal with the crisis, which could include odd-even watering days, restricted watering, water bans or other measures deemed necessary.

The city of Breckenridge has no less than 900,000 gallons of water in storage at any given time and has the capacity to hold 1.5 million gallons in storage. In the event of a sudden loss of supply from the wells, the storage gives the city the ability to operate under normal demand for at least two days and that could be extended with the implementation of emergency conservation procedures.

The city’s water plan also addresses loss of water storage and loss of water distribution, as well as the triggers for declaring a water emergency, and response to said emergency.

The council also reviewed and approved bills for the city through July 1, totaling $122,490.66, as well as bills and claims for public utilities through the same period, totaling $352, 591.42.

Breckenridge City Hall will be closed Thursday, July 4, in observance of Independence Day, and will be open Friday, July 5.

The next city council meeting will be at 5 p.m. Monday, July 15.

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