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SMSC and Prior Lake open new multimillion-dollar water treatment plant

After years of partnership and planning, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and city of Prior Lake cut the ribbon Tuesday on a $20 million treatment facility built to meet the needs of both growing communities for the next two decades.

Mdewakanton Chairman Charlie R. Vig said the facility’s capacity to meet future needs aligns with the Dakota tradition of planning seven generations ahead.

“As our community grows, it is important for us to plan for their needs, and that includes their water supply,” Vig said. “Water is a sacred gift element that is given to us.”

Officials said the plant combines environmental and financial efficiency. By using one facility, the community and city reduce their draw on groundwater and save money in the process — $6 million for the city and $3 million for the community, by their counts, compared to building their own facilities.

“We the city are most fortunate to have a close working relationship with the SMSC,” Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs said during the opening ceremony Tuesday. “The water treatment plant is tangible evidence of the relationship between us. It speaks to the growth and extensive partnering that has taken place over the years.”

Work began in 2016 as the Mdewakanton began drafting plans for a facility to replace aging treatment systems and the city considered its options as it neared its maximum water capacity. In 2017, the two governments signed a long-term water agreement that split the costs and gave the city purchasing rights to up to 2.2 million gallons of water each day.

The city paid $1.3 million for a raw water main connecting Well 6 near The Wilds, which hadn’t been connected to the old plant, to the new facility — meaning the city’s seven wells are now fully treated.

Prior Lake paid another $2.1 million for two filter cells, increasing the facility’s production capacity from 3.5 million gallons per day to 4.8 million gallons.

The plant provides water to tribal properties south of County Road 42 and will provide water to the southwest orderly annexation of Prior Lake as the city grows.

How it works

Water is pumped into the facility and treated for iron and manganese. The facility filters about 2,400 gallons per minute. The water is then oxidized, allowing any remaining iron to form into solids that are filtered out of the water.

Filtered water is sold to Prior Lake for use throughout the community. Under the current agreement, the city can buy up to 2.1 million gallons of water a day.

The remaining water is softened in a process that removes calcium, magnesium and other metals from the water. The facility can currently soften about 1,600 gallons of water per minute; at full build-out, it should be able to get through more.

The Mdewakanton community then takes the softened water and pumps it back to tribal properties for drinking water.