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Our plants regularly win awards for achieving near-perfect compliance with federal and state discharge 
standards.  The Hastings and St. Croix Valley Plants are two of the top 10 plants in the country for 20-
plus consecutive years of full compliance with clean water discharge permits.  At our newest facility in 
East Bethel, the water is treated to almost drinking water purity and then discharged into the ground for 
groundwater recharge.   
 
With the help of citizen and organizational partners, MCES monitors the water quality of more than 150 
lakes, 21 streams and 21 sites on the Mississippi and other major rivers in the metro are each year.   
In consultation with state agencies, watershed districts, and local governments, we create and maintain 
an up-to-date regional water supply plan. The plan helps map out water supply trends and options for 
communities to develop and sustain water supplies 
 
The Case for Change  
An initial, and significant, catalyst for change within MCES was the adoption of the Metropolitan 
Council’s regional planning framework for 2040 or Thrive MSP 2040.  This plan was developed with a 
high public engagement, and resulted in designated outcomes of Stewardship, Prosperity, Sustainability, 
Livability and Equity to be achieved by applying principles of Integration, Collaboration and 
Accountability.  Of these outcomes and principles, Sustainability, Integration and Collaboration have all 
significantly influenced MCES’ planning for the future.    
Other drivers for change were: 

 

Climate Change Impacts - Groundwater Recharge Uncertain 

 

Raised Public Expectations and Resource Constraints 

 

Going Beyond Traditional Regulation – Flexiblity instead of “one size fits all” approach 

 

Water Resources Utility of the Future needed to improve water quality 

 
Strategic Planning Process 
When we began our work on a Strategic Vision Plan, we recognized that we needed to break down our 
internal “silos” and integrate our work, so we departed from the traditional approach.   Rather than 
develop our plan with a handful of people, we upsized and committed to undertake the efforts by 
involving many more employees and stakeholders in the process.  We used a strategic planning process 
that was used a visual facilitation process and could involve and engage a large group, which resulted in 
the recognition that we needed to update our core missions to clarify our role in the regional water 
cycle and communicate it effectively and we needed to greatly improve the integration and coordination 
of our work internally and externally with other water stakeholders and organizations.  The term “Silos 
of Excellence” was used to refer to our history of technical excellence, with the acknowledgement that 
we needed to make better connections between them to work together for greater accomplishments.   
The new perspective created by the planning team resulted in a change in our mission that now gives 
greater attention to our water planning roles and captures the “one water” strategy with “integration” 
for the how and “sustainable” as outcome. 
Old Mission – Provide wastewater service that protect public health and the environment while support 
regional growth

 
New Mission – Provide wastewater services and integrated planning to ensure sustainable water 
quality and water supply for the region

We also created a new vision that captures the need to be excellent and efficient at what we do and 
that we have to earn trust as partner in order to collaborate with other water stakeholders for a 
sustainable water future.