CSWEA Message from the Chair



Winter is Coming

By Jacqueline Strait

As I write this, we are nearing the end of October and about to enter the start of the chilly season. For many of us in the upper Midwest, this is a critical time for wrapping up key phases of our construction projects, striving to get that first wear course down or that building enclosed. Sometimes the weather supports us and gives us a bit more time to get things done than we expected; but as mother nature has shown us time and again, big changes can happen in a blink of an eye and a snowy 30-degree day can suddenly appear after a sunny 60-degree day.

In anticipation of the coming change of season, the MN section has been very active this fall by holding in-person events and committee meetings. On September 28, the Collections Committee held the 2022 Fall Collections Workshop with MWOA in-person in Duluth. The workshop topics included utility locating, MH rehab options, pipe bursting, and odor control. Planning for the 2023 Innovative Conference by the Operations, Lab, and Safety committee is underway. On October 20, the R2E group toured the VIRESCO Anaerobic Digestion Facility in Turtle Lake, WI. The facility was originally built for dairy waste digestion, but it has rapidly expanded and introduced innovated new processes that enable the facility to accept multiple, different food and beverage waste products. I was personally able to attend the tour with the group. It was exciting to get a close-up view of the anaerobic digestion process and it was interesting to hear how they adapt the process to accommodate the different carbon contents of the waste sources. However, the process that grabbed everyone the most was how they de-package or prepare the different food sources prior to entering the digester. They use multiple methods that vary from crushing the packages to having an employee manually cut away the packaging. While the carbon source content matters, the key question they ask new customers is what type of packing the waste will come in. In addition to producing renewable energy, they also recycle everything they can that can’t be fed to the digester.

In addition to bundling up for winter and preparing for the holidays, there are many events to look forward to as we wrap up a great year. Upcoming events include the 2022 MN Conference on the Environment which will be in person this year on November 10th at the Minneapolis Convention Center. There is a CSWEA wide virtual stormwater webinar planned for November 17, and a 2023 winter collections workshop planned for January 25. Also, while the MN Section Business Meeting has historically been held the morning of the Conference on the Environment, in 2022 it will be held the day before, Wednesday November 9 from 3:00 to 4:00 pm. All members are welcome and encouraged to attend. If you are interested in attending in person at the HR Green St. Paul office or virtually, please RSVP to me at jstrait@hrgreen.com.

As we close out 2022, I hope everyone has a chance to reflect over the holidays on what a tremendous year it has been for our industry. We have been busier than ever and with COVID-19 better understood, tracked, and monitored, we have been able to return to offering more in-person social and professional development opportunities. I don’t know what 2023 has in store for us, but I know it’s nothing we can’t handle.

– Jacqueline Strait –

Mission Statement

To provide a Water Environment Federation (WEF) organization (Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin) offering multiple opportunities for the exchange of water quality knowledge and experiences among its members and the public and to foster a greater awareness of water quality achievements and challenges.