Last packed MPCA meeting for hotly contested Afton sewage facility

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Citizens Advisory Board held its last meeting on Tuesday morning. The 48-year-old board was just eliminated by the legislature this session, and at a packed final meeting, the board worked to decide whether an environmental study is required before Afton can implement a $4 million sewage treatment facility.

The City says the community wastewater collection and treatment system would sit north of the Old Village area, and is supposed to protect the St. Croix River during flooding. Lake St. Croix Beach and St. Mary's Point residents think the project is only a host for environmental problems.

MPCA staff told the Board that the proposed Afton water treatment plant meets all state regulations and doesn't require an environmental statement. A majority of lawmakers felt the board's usefulness on such decisions has passed.

"When the Citizen's Board, the MPCA Citizens Board was created in 1967 we didn't have the environmental laws in place that we have today," Rep. Denny McNamara, House Environment Chair, said. "And it thinks it is no longer necessary for it to have absolute permitting authority over the agency, and the legislature agreed with us."

But at today's last hearing, not every citizen agreed.

"We've been given three minutes of time to anybody over two years and we've never had a chance to speak in front of anybody, really," James Golden, Citizens for Valley Creek, said. "And so the value of the Citizens Board cannot be underestimated."

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