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Soldiers Grove pursues grant to make needed sewer system repairs
Village of Soldiers Grove

SOLDIERS GROVE - After moving quickly to withdraw the village’s Declaration of Emergency, the Soldiers Grove Village Board made the decision to move forward with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application to address needed upgrades to their sanitary sewer system. The board met in-person on Thursday, June 4, with no masks or social distancing.

Delta-3 Engineering owner Bart Nies, and wastewater engineer Jordan Fure, presented their report on the village’s sewer system issues to the board. In order to move forward with the grant application, the board had to approve the analysis, proposed solutions, and cost estimates contained in the report. At the end of the presentation and discussion, the board voted unanimously to approve the report.

Dale Klemme of Community Development Alternatives was present at the meeting, and guided the board through the final actions needed to move forward with the CDBG application.

The total amount of the project is estimated at $1.35 million with the addition of $150,000 to purchase a generator. Klemme explained that the village’s portion of the project cost will be 33 percent or $457,000. He said that he believes the village could secure a DNR Clean Water Grant to pay for $228,000 of the match, and obtain a low interest 20-year DNR loan at 1.5 percent to finance the rest.

Finally, Klemme asked the board to adopt a ‘Resolution to Commit Matching Funds,’ which put them on record as agreeing to pay the 33 percent match, either from DNR grant and loan funds or from the People’s State Bank. He explained that passing this resolution will help their CDBG application to score higher, and the board did so unanimously on a roll call vote.

“Just the savings alone from reducing the amount of groundwater infiltrating into your system will result in considerable savings for the village,” Klemme said. “This could very well pay for the village’s part of the project without the need to raise sewer rates.”

Director of Public Works Brian Copus pointed out to the board that the proposed work leaves all of the bigger sewer plant options on the table. Those options include upgrading the current plant or a joint venture with the Village of Gays Mills.

Delta-3 report

Nies began his comments with a description of the village’s current system.

“The sanitary sewer system primarily comprises of the original concrete and cast iron pipe system installed in the 1960's and is in very poor condition,” Nies said. “The current deficiencies of the sanitary sewer system include deteriorating pipe, cracked pipes, severe sags, offset and gapped pipe joints, intrusive laterals, uncapped/abandoned laterals, large gravel/soil deposits, substandard brick and block manholes, displaced manhole castings, open pick-hole lids, and deteriorated adjustment linings.”

Nies explained that the gapped joints and cracked pipes both allow sewage to escape from the system into groundwater, but also allow groundwater to infiltrate into the system. He said that overflows violate the village’s Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit, and many other parts of it are not up to code. In addition, some of the lift stations are not up to code, and this has resulted in backups into resident’s basements. In addition, during flooding, Lift Stations #1 and #2 are only accessible by boat.

Nies told the board that the problem had been especially severe during the 2018 flood. He said that the clearwater overload has resulted in an astounding 13,721,000 gallons of excessive and unnecessary wastewater treated by the plant in just three years.

Proposed work

The biggest proposed changes to the system are the relocation of Lift Stations One and Two, and the abandonment of the uncapped sewer laterals in the old part of the village in the park. While some of the pipes elsewhere in the system can be maintained for use by inserting a liner, others will need to be replaced. Lift Stations #3 and #4 will be upgraded with three-phase electrical service, and replacement of pumps, controls and the electrical panel.

The description of the scope of work in the report calls for:

Pine Street:the village plans to replace the existing, deficient sanitary sewer system components located on Pine Street (Third Street to Mill Street/Park View Drive intersection) with 670 feet of eight-inch PVC sanitary sewer, five sanitary sewer manholes, 870 feet of lining, three manhole rehabilitations, and associated PVC sanitary sewer laterals.

Park View Drive:(Mill Street to Lift Station #1) replace existing pipes with 870 feet of 10-inch PVC sanitary sewer, three sanitary sewer manholes, and associated PVC sanitary sewer laterals. 

Park View Drive and Cross Street:(Lift Station #1- Peterson Street) replace existing pipes with 400 feet of 10-inch PVC sanitary sewer, three sanitary sewer manholes, 510 feet of six-inch sanitary force main, proposed Lift Station #1, and abandonment of existing lift station. 

Main Street:sanitary sewer main, sanitary manholes, and associated sanitary sewer laterals are to be abandoned on Main Street (Pine Street to Severson Street) and on Mill Street (Main Street to Pine Street). 

Lift Station #2:the village plans to secure the control panel and construct an access drive for Lift Station #2. The Village plans to replace the electrical service, pumps, controls, and electrical/control panel. 

Street Reconstruction:since the construction of the proposed sanitary sewer and appurtenances will cause disturbance of the entire street surface on Pine Street, Mill Street, and Park View Drive, the streets will need to be reconstructed after the sanitary sewer systems are installed.


Village trustee Shayne Chapman expressed concern about removing the old uncapped septic laterals in the park, and what effect that would have on drainage in the area.

“After the 2018 flood, we ran 400,000 gallons of extra water through the sewer plant,” Chapman said. “I’m afraid if we don’t add in a storm sewer down there, the park will turn into a swamp.”

Delta-3’s Nies told Chapman that “if once we start the design for the project, there is some easy fix for that problem, we might be able to wrap that work into the CDBG grant.”

Land purchase

As part of the plan to upgrade the sanitary sewer system, the board voted unanimously on a roll call vote to purchase a parcel of land from Jamie Hooverson for $7,000. Supervisor Harrison Heilman abstained from the vote. The parcel will be used to construct a new Lift Station #2.

Village President Paul Nicholson reported on an issue that had arisen in the course of negotiating with Hooverson over the purchase of the parcel.

“Delta-3 identified the parcel within the village where it would make most sense to locate Lift Station #2,” Nicholson told the board. “Unbeknownst to us, village resident Noel Miller had been attempting to purchase the parcel for several years to build a parking lot for a restaurant business he hopes to open.”

After discussion, the board agreed that construction of the lift station would not require all of the land in the parcel. They decided that it would be best, however, for the village to own the entire parcel until after construction had been completed. They agreed that after that, they could discuss transferring the unneeded portions of the parcel to Miller.

President’s report

Nicholson reported to the board that since their last meeting he had become involved in a dispute among neighbors in the village about parking in the area of the Rivercrest Apartments.

“When Rivercrest Apartments were built, it was mostly senior citizens living there, so the fact there is only one parking space per unit was not a problem,” Nicholson explained. “Now, the residents living there have more than one car, and they are parking them on the street and then other neighbors are having a hard time finding a parking space.”

Nicholson said that at times, the dispute had escalated to shouting and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department being called.

“When the deputies showed up, what they found was cars that were registered, insured, and legally parked,” Nicholson said. “There was nothing they could do, and I’m not sure that it is really the village’s responsibility to resolve this dispute.”

Nicholson also told the board that there is a group that has formed on Facebook dedicated to cleaning up Myrtle Lake. He said the group is led by Randy Swiggum, and has over 100 members.

“They have already done some work to clean the lake up, and they are seeking permission from the board to do some fundraising and apply for some grants,” Nicholson said. “I told them that they should pull some information together, and plan to bring it before the board for consideration.”

Other business

In other business, the board:

• heard that the $4,500 in repairs to the new fire truck had been completed

• heard that the Library would be entering a phased reopening plan, starting June 15, to allow use of the computers – no browsing will be allowed, but curbside pickup will still be available

• heard that Librarian Cele Wolfe will be retiring, and that Sarah DiPadova will be taking her place

• learned that the DNR requires the village to do a complete draw down on their water reservoir every 10 years, and that 2020 is the year it must be done.

• agreed to recruit for a seasonal member of the public works team at 30 hours-per-week for $10 per hour

• agreed to spend $2,000 to purchase new swings and chains for the park

• agreed to include a notice about the village ordinance prohibiting unlicensed vehicles with the next water bill

• accepted an offer of $55,000 for a parcel of village property in the as-is condition

• voted to borrow $150,000 to pay out the village’s retirement fund liability and reduce the interest rate being paid on the amount

• approved a donation of $500 to the Gays Mills Swimming Pool.