Mercury is a dangerous toxin commonly found in household and industrial materials. Mercury does not breakdown into less harmful substances over time and cannot be reclaimed or eliminated once released into the environment. Mercury reduces the efficiency of our wastewater treatment process and negatively impacts human health and wildlife.
The City of Buffalo is committed to providing clean water and a healthy environment. The Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) has implemented a Mercury Minimalization Plan (MMP) to:
- Quantify the amount of mercury being discharged into and out of the WRP
- Identify contributors of mercury into the wastewater system
- Develop a plan for the reduction of the amount of mercury discharge by the WRP
To reduce mercury discharge into the North Fork of the Crow River, the MMP limits mercury discharges to a concentration of less than 1.3 nanograms per liter (ng/L). Buffalo's wastewater discharge permit requires mercury effluent monitoring twice per year standards.
The most efficient way to meet the goal of MMP is to reduce the intake of mercury. Mercury is discharged to the WRP through the collection system by the users of the system. Thus, identification of the potential sources of mercury is the first step in minimizing the discharge of mercury from the WRP. As most of the unregulated releases are by accident, the MMP promotes education about handling, clean-up procedures, and proper disposal.
Residents and businesses are encouraged to follow the best management practices:
- Know what to do in the event of a mercury spill - How to Clean up a Home Mercury Spill (PDF)
- Replace equipment containing Mercury as soon as possible
- Properly dispose of mercury-based equipment and unused chemicals to the Wright County Compost and Recycling Facility.
By following these steps, you are helping protect public health, improve water quality, and potentially reduce future costs for our wastewater reclamation system.
For additional mercury information contact the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.