ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud has been labeled the leaders in wastewater treatment and two state agencies are seeing what innovative approaches they can bring to other facilities across the state.

The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency toured the St. Cloud Wastewater Treatment Plant Friday learning new innovative solutions to water management and the challenges that come with efficient wastewater treatment.

MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop says she's impressed with the advanced operations of the facility.

This is a facility that has embraced innovation and sustainability. With the governor's emphasis on protecting the environment and our waters, the city of St. Cloud is doing incredible work to advance both of those causes.

The plant first began operations in 1976 and expanded in 2010. The city uses the Mississippi River as its drinking water source.

Governor Tim Walz hopes to reduce energy consumption in the state by 2050. Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says a lot of the things the St. Cloud plant is doing follows suit with the governor's budget proposals.

Seeing something like water as a resource that's so fundamental, it's also an economic development asset. Which is the governor's point, it's invest now for growth later. You can not just fail to invest in the infrastructure and think you're going to have the tools to continue to grow in the future.

Malcolm says the St. Cloud facility sets a high bar for other wastewater treatment facilities and hopes it can be a model for other plants to follow.

Bishop says she likes how St. Cloud Technical and Community College offers programs like Water Environment Technology to help students learn the importance of clean, safe water for communities and the environment.

St. Cloud was voted to have the best tasting drinking water in the state back in 2011 and 2016.

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)