CRWD - Clearwater Harbor - Hidden River Project #18-1 (Nitrogen Mitigation Plan)

Clearwater Harbor - Hidden River Project #18-1 (Nitrogen Mitigation & Analysis Plan Implementation)

Current Project Status

Treatment Building- Information from Public Hearing

CWH-HR P#18-1 Public Hearing Notice - October 2018

Legislative Letters

The Clearwater River Watershed District was successful in being awarded 80% funding from the Point Source Implementation Program on behalf of the residents on the Clearwater Harbor and Hidden River Sanitary Sewer Systems. The funding is necessary to make treatment system upgrades needed to meet new (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) MPCA permit requirements. 

However, the Point Source Implementation Grant (PSIF) funding source has been challenged by a lawsuit from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), and is on hold indefinitely. 

Our legislators were key in supporting the House Bill 3332 and Senate Bill 3415 that amended Minnesota Statue 446A.073 to increase Wastewater Infrastructure Funding Program from 50% to 80%.  

With the lawsuit in play, we will need their support again to move funding through. We have included a sample form letter that residents can use to prepare a personal letter to their legislators urging support for releasing the PSIG program funding at 80% through additional legislative action early this session. 

Download letter template to send to your representatives

Who are my local representatives?

Project Narrative

The Clearwater Harbor and Hidden River Sanitary Sewer Systems were constructed in the early-to-mid 2000s at a cost of ~$2 million, paid for by residents via special assessments. The Clearwater River Watershed District was petitioned by the developer of the Hidden River plat to construct the Hidden River system, while the Stearns County Board of Commissioners petitioned the Clearwater Harbor system. The two sewer systems are located north of Clearwater Lake. The systems treat wastewater for 112 properties in a manner that must protect groundwater as well as nearby surface waters from sewage pollution.


The systems are permitted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The permit has a robust set of requirements which includes groundwater monitoring for nitrogen levels. The original MPCA permit required monitoring of nitrogen via groundwater monitoring wells, but in 2014 the permit changed to require that nitrogen not exceed 10mg/liter at said wells. One of the monitoring wells located down-gradient of the drain fields for the two systems has had total concentrations above 20mg/liter, exceeding the MPCA policy standards. As such, the MPCA mandated the CRWD address these levels and develop a nitrogen mitigation and analysis plan (NMAP). By May 30, 2019, the CRWD must demonstrate to the MPCA the nitrogen policy standards are being met in order to comply with the permit.


Beginning in 2014, the CRWD Board of Managers has developed the required NMAP and has progressed on implementation, culminating in the establishment of CRWD Project #18-1. In regards to implementation, the following has been accomplished:

  • Held public information sessions for residents of the two systems to provide input;
  • Conducted detailed engineering analysis to determine potential alternatives to meet permit requirements;
  • Developed preliminary engineered designs needed to apply for grant funding to offset residents' costs;
  • Prepared cost analysis to estimate potential costs;
  • Secured placement of the project on the state's project priority list, increasing opportunities for grant funding;
  • Contacted state legislators for the support of state legislation to increase grant funding;
  • Conducted a detailed hydrogeological investigation to better quantify what is occurring with groundwater to provide better information for project design;
  • Hosted a listening session where residents could voice concerns directly with their local legislators;
  • Applied for Point Source Implementation Grant (PSIG) Program with the state Public Facilities Authority in an effort to secure grant funding;
  • Held discussions with MPCA on establishing a compliance schedule should grant funding for the project not be secured within permit timeline;
  • Completed technical & cost specifications report, along with design package to construct a nitrogen mitigation system to comply with MPCA permit;
  • Submitted design packet to MPCA to seek project certification and increase score via PSIG program;
  • Continue to solicit support from state legislators for the project;
  • Called a public hearing on the proposed nitrogen mitigation system.


In addition, the CRWD Board of Managers has set forth the following positions in regards to this project:

  • The implementation of a nitrogen removal system rests on the assumption that the State of Minnesota will provide at least 50% grant funding to help offset implementation costs to residents (see 06/01/2016 Board Minutes);
  • As the lot owners of the Hidden River development have not demonstrated unanimous concurrence regarding decommissioning the Hidden River Sewer System and converting to individual septic treatment systems, the decommissioning of the Hidden River Sanitary Sewer System is not a viable option (see 08/16/2017 Board Minutes);
  • Funding for the local match portion of the project will be accomplished by a multi-year special assessment (see 06/01/2016 Board Minutes).


Project Documents

Reports & Memorandums

Applicable CRWD Board of Managers Minutes (action taken)


September 5, 2018
July 18, 2018
June 27, 2018
May 16, 2018
April 18, 2018
March 21, 2018
February 21, 2018


September 20, 2017
August 16, 2017
June 27, 2017
May 17, 2017
March 15, 2017
January 18, 2017
December 21, 2016
August 17, 2016
July 20, 2016
June 15, 2016
June 1, 2016
May 11, 2016
April 13, 2016
March 30, 2016
March 9, 2016


October 14, 2015
September 9, 2015
August 12, 2015
February 11, 2015
October 8, 2014
August 13, 2014
June 11, 2014
May 14, 2014

MPCA permit, request for permit extension

Letters to Residents of Hidden River and Clearwater Harbor

Outreach to State Legislators