ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Many cities across Minnesota are struggling to finance costly improvements to aging sewer plants while simultaneously meeting tighter environmental standards.

A Minnesota Pollution Control Agency report says about 30 percent of wastewater treatment plants in outstate Minnesota are more than 30 years old.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that some cities say that if they invest in updating plants to current standards, they should be given time to meet new regulations that may be enacted in the next few years.

The Legislature directed the agency to draft a rule change that would give cities that upgrade their plants a 16-year break from new environmental regulations. But a judge refused to approve the proposal last month. The agency is considering an appeal.

Environmental groups say the 16-year exception would conflict with the federal Clean Water Act.

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