Saint Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS) provides water to approximately 450,000 customers. To facilitate this, we operate and maintain a complex system of water supply, treatment, and distribution infrastructure. Our system provides Saint Paul and many surrounding communities with approximately 40 million gallons of high quality treated water on a daily basis. Below you will find detailed information about particularly important aspects of our work and projects we'd like to highlight to our customers.
We employ an incredibly diverse set of individuals with expertise in every area necessary to operate an exceptional water utility. We operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep high quality treated water flowing to our customers. Below are a few examples of the work our staff completes. None of the work on this page would be possible without their skill and dedication.
In January, 2021, SPRWS began an exciting project aimed at upgrading the McCarrons water treatment plant.
Since the mid-1910s, the McCarrons Water Treatment Plant has been providing reliable, quality drinking water to residents of Saint Paul and neighboring communities. Though the facility has been expanded on several occasions, much of the infrastructure which supplies our customers with water is nearing 100-years in age. Despite its age, the treatment plant continues to perform well and produce high quality drinking water for 450,000 people in St. Paul and the surrounding communities.
In fact, the McCarrons water treatment plant is one of only 31 facilities in the nation to have received the Presidents’ Award for Water Treatment from the Partnership for Safe Water. Our staff is proud of the role that our exceptional water quality plays in maintaining public health.
While current water quality remains exceptional, SPRWS is proactively looking towards the future and planning to make significant improvements to the McCarrons water treatment plant. These improvements will position SPRWS to continue providing high quality water far into the future. Most of the changes to the facility will be targeted at improving reliability and flexibility and will enable the utility to continue to meet the needs of customers in the future. The utility has a longstanding history of proactively investing in infrastructure. Those investments have made the utility one of nation’s best, and modern investments build on that tradition.
The project will include improvements to all the pre-filtration portions of the treatment process. This includes the treatment processes responsible for removing water hardness, increasing the clarity of the water, adjusting the pH to an appropriate range, and removing many contaminants. Most of the technologies included in the scope of the project are more modern, efficient variations of the same technologies and processes that have been used to successfully treat drinking water at SPRWS for decades.
One new technology will be added: ozonation. Ozonation is used at many water treatment facilities around the world and provides numerous benefits. Among the benefits are reducing the likelihood of unpleasant taste and odor in the water and removing contaminants of emerging concern, water pollutants that are not known to cause negative health impacts but that are still being studied. The project scope also includes a significant amount of demolition work to remove older, obsolete infrastructure.
The project recently reached a major milestone with the submittal of the 60 percent design in January of 2022. Construction work is slated to begin in the early spring of 2022 and continue into the middle of 2026.
SPRWS staff will provide updates on this webpage as the project progresses.
Click to expand the items below to learn more about the project.
SPRWS held a groundbreaking for staff, the Board of Water Commissioners, the city councils of the cities we serve, the construction companies, owner-advisors, and design build company on May 12.
Patrick Shea, General Manager, Saint Paul Regional Water Services
Amy Brendmoen, President of the Saint Paul City Council and
Commissioner on the Board of Water Commissioners
Mara Humphrey, President, Board of Water Commissioners
Greg Fischer, Vice President, Jacobs; Design Build Director
Design and construction of the new facility is expected to cost approximately $250M.
Investing in water infrastructure before it fails is absolutely vital. Nearly half a million people depend on the McCarron’s Water Treatment Plant every single day. Waiting for the facility to begin failing is not an option because of the vital role it plays in sustaining public health and livelihood.
Additionally, low interest rates make this an attractive time to finance the project, and we look forward to the opportunity to improve the reliability of the facility and to increase the future flexibility of the site.
Ultimately, the foresight of our predecessors has allowed us to depend on this facility for a century. A similar level of foresight is needed today in order to secure the future of drinking water for our customers in the coming generations.
Taste changes are unlikely to be noticeable. Extensive preliminary testing will help to ensure that the project does not result in any adverse impacts to water quality.
Early projections suggest that the average SPRWS customer will experience a rate increase of between $6 and $8 per month between 2022 and 2025 to fund the water treatment plant project. This estimate is based on macroeconomic assumptions of inflation rates and interest rates, variables which are difficult to predict for even the foremost experts. As such, it will be continually refined throughout the project.
Thanks to SPRWS’s excellent fiscal management and a favorable economic environment for investment, the improvements can be completed in a way that will provide customers with tremendous value.
SPRWS takes seriously its responsibility to invest wisely on behalf of its customers and will continue to thoroughly consider costs and benefits when making all project decisions.
We do not expect any interruptions to water service during the project.
Site preparation demolition and grading is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2022. The bulk of the construction and demolition efforts are expected to take place between fall of 2022 and mid-2026.
SPRWS has partnered with Jacobs, the University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Department of Health to run a small-scale water treatment facility on site for 12 months. The small-scale facility utilizes all of the new treatment processes proposed and provides ample opportunity to spot any concerns well before any construction takes place.
We have gathered nearly 12 months of data from this facility, and all data points to continued excellence in water quality.
Additionally, the existing facility will remain operational throughout the project. SPRWS will continue to operate with the existing facility until the new facility has passed rigorous inspection and water quality tests.
Several existing structures above and below ground will be demolished once the project is complete. SPRWS is collaborating with the State Historic Preservation Office to document the history of the facility. Additionally, SPRWS staff has undertaken several historical documentation efforts to ensure that the history of the facility will be honored.
Demolition of existing structures will be necessary in order to limit facility maintenance costs, to make room for new components, and to open up free space on the site for any future additions that may be necessary.
Saint Paul Regional Water Services flushes its fire hydrants and water mains every year as part of a uni-directional flushing program. Click to expand the items below to learn more about this process and it's effects.
Ensure all our hydrants, valves, and mains are in working order
Ensure we maintain high quality water by scouring and cleaning the pipes
Ensure the reliability of our system
We open a hydrant and main valves in a specified area, allowing the water to run out onto the street and back into the storm sewer system.
As fresh water rushing in from our distribution system exits out the hydrant, it stirs up the water and lifts out debris and sediment that might have accumulated in the pipes and hydrant.
It is possible that water services in the area of flushing experience temporary drops in water pressure and/or discolored water from stirred up sediments.
Allow the sediments to settle for a few hours after the flushing has stopped. Then, run the cold water for about 5 minutes to flush out your own pipes. Do not run the hot water. This could draw sediment into your hot water heater. Do not wash clothes. The sediments could settle in your wash.
Yes. There are no harmful health effects from drinking discolored water. Compounds such as iron, manganese, and other sediments make it discolored, but they don't affect the microbiological quality.
We own and maintain the portion of the water service in the street right of way and we replace that portion of the service in conjunction with street maintenance projects. The property owner owns and is responsible for maintenance and replacement of the service within private property.
We are developing a 10 year plan to replace all lead water service lines in our service area (both the public and private side of the service) at no cost to property owners. The program will begin in full in 2023. During 2022 a small pilot of this program will be offered to those in water main construction project areas. For more information, visit our Lead Free SPRWS program page.
If you have a lead service and don't want to wait for the Lead Free SPRWS program to replace it, we offer an assessment program for Saint Paul residents that allows for the costs of such replacement work to be assessed and collected through property taxes. For information on this assessment program view our lead replacement packet (PDF - 1.39MB) or contact the SPRWS engineering division at 651-266-6270.
Most lead services were installed in homes built prior to 1926. There were also a small percentage of homes built between 1942 and 1947 that have lead service lines. These homes are at higher risk of lead leaching from the pipes. We offer free lead testing for these customers and help them to interpret the results of their tests. Eliminating these lead service lines is the best long-term solution to the problem of lead in drinking water.
Lead testing kits are available for customers at the customer service desk at:
1900 Rice St
Saint Paul MN, 55113
Monday - Friday from 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
For more information contact customer service at 651-266-6350.
If you live outside our service area, you can have your household water tested by a private laboratory. Contact the Minnesota Department of Health for a list of certified laboratories.