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March 9, 2021

City of St. Cloud is the Recipient of National EPA Award for Innovative Financing

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The City of St. Cloud’s Nutrient & Energy Recovery Project was selected for the 2020 PISCES Exceptional Project Award in the Innovative Financing category. St. Cloud’s project was one of five in the nation selected for this level of recognition and is the first Minnesota project in history to receive a PISCES Exceptional Project Award.

The PISCES Program nationally recognizes exceptional projects that are funded by the federal Clean Water Revolving Fund Program. The Clean Water Revolving Fund Program provides grants and low-interest financing options for municipal projects related to improvements to water quality, public health, economic development, and projects that help meet national and state sustainability goals.

The City has established strong partnerships with both the MPCA and MPFA, who were vital for the success of this project. “Nominating the City of St. Cloud for the PISCES award was a no-brainer for the state,” says Aaron Luckstein with the MPCA. “Their model for success starts with a change in traditional thinking. Instead of viewing pollutants like nutrients as a waste, they view them as a resource and strive to determine innovative ways to not only use the resource but to maximize the use of it. Their systems thinking approach allows the City to enhance their infrastructure, and protect our land and water, all while keeping user rates low for residents and businesses.”

The project, designed by Donohue, combines two innovative processes to improve the biosolids program: nutrient harvesting (the Ostara process) and thermal hydrolysis of biosolids (the Lystek process). This is the first time these two processes have been employed together at a resource recovery facility in North America.

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The Ostara process extracts Struvite, a hard phosphate byproduct that can damage equipment if left untreated, and produces a phosphorus-rich fertilizer pellet. The Lystek thermal hydrolysis process, which combines heat, alkali, and mixing to break down biological material in biosolids, results in a high quality liquid fertilizer that is more cost-effective and community-acceptable than other typical processes. The biofuel recovery project components have resulted in a net zero energy facility.

 “The success of this project is a result of progressive, dedicated, passionate city staff members who are continually looking at ways to improve through innovative processes and technologies.  The team is constantly looking at ways to improve the level of services we provide in the most cost-effective way possible,” said Tracy Hodel, St. Cloud’s Public Services Director.

“We are proud of the exceptional services we provide to our customers and residents, we do so in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.  Many people think greener is more expensive; we are an example of where greener is cheaper,” said Mayor Dave Kleis. “We would like to thank the EPA for this recognition, we are truly honored and proud to accept this award.”

For more information about the City of St. Cloud’s Nutrient, Energy & Water Recovery Facility and the PISCES award visit https://ci.stcloud.mn.us/331/Wastewater-Services, https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf/pisces

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