Hennepin County is considering a major management change to how its garbage burner is run.

At a public works committee meeting last week, the County Board discussed switching management of the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) from long-standing operator Covanta Energy to Maple Grove-based Great River Energy.

That would mean New Jersey-based Covanta would no longer operate the downtown Minneapolis garbage burner for the first time in more than 20 years.

On Tuesday, the County Board is expected to review the terms of the agreement with Great River Energy, and if it’s approved Covanta would have 30 days to match the agreement. If not, Great River Energy would get the job, operating HERC starting in March 2018 in a nearly 16-month contract for $25.5 million.

Great River Energy already operates an Elk River processing plant where the county sends garbage to be converted into electricity as well as a facility that Washington and Ramsey counties use. Three years ago, a contract with Great River Energy caused controversy because County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin had not disclosed that his wife had been a lobbyist for the company years earlier.



City seeking proposals to spruce up Peavey Plaza

Four years after Minneapolis’ plans to redesign downtown’s Peavey Plaza ran into a historic preservation roadblock, city officials are ready for a new approach.

The city is seeking a design firm to repair the plaza’s fountains, restore its original reflecting pond and generally spruce up the space. Construction is expected to cost about $6 million, about $2 million of which would come from a state grant. The plan is to complete the project by fall 2018.

Design proposals are due Sept. 9.

The project will stick to the basics of restoring the 1970s-era plaza and making it accessible for people with disabilities. City officials are still mulling whether to pursue additional options, such as winter skating and temporary stages, as recommended in a study this month.

The multilevel concrete plaza on Nicollet Mall has sat derelict for years in what would otherwise be a prime downtown gathering space. Preservationists blocked plans in 2012 to replace the plaza with what city officials saw as a more inviting space.


Carver County

Zebra mussels discovered in Lake Minnewashta

Lake Minnewashta is the latest lake to succumb to the invasive species making a home for itself in Minnesota — zebra mussels.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District announced the finding Thursday after the mussels were found at the Lake Minnewashta boat launch.

The district plans on increasing in-water assessments and developing a method to deal with the invasive species. Using copper sulfate is one possible treatment.

Zebra mussels have been found in Lake Waconia and Christmas Lake. Carver County receives about $132,000 a year for its aquatic invasive species program.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has found that fewer than 2 percent of Minnesota’s lakes have been invaded by zebra mussels.

Beatrice dupuy


City warns of E. coli risk at Alimagnet Dog Park

High bacteria levels at swimming holes can be a problem for more than just people.

The city of Burnsville on Thursday advised residents that E. coli levels in a pond at Alimagnet Dog Park exceed safety standards for human swimming beaches, although there is no established safety standard for dogs.

The stormwater pond is there primarily to collect rain and snowmelt runoff, although dogs are allowed to swim in it.

“As always, allowing your dog to swim in the pond is at your own risk,” the city’s advisory said.

The dog park — a fenced, seven-acre exercise area — is in Alimagnet Park, just off County Road 11 in southeast Burnsville.