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Village Board learns about sewer plant options
Gays Mills
gays mills village board

GAYS MILLS - Representatives from Town and Country Engineering addressed the Gays Mills Village Board Monday, explaining the way forward with the new sewer plant construction.

Engineer Ben Heidemann told the board that they were there to give the board a view of the project from 30,000 feet. He said as the project progressed, the view would get lower. The next step might be more like the view from 10,000 feet. At some point, the board would arrive at a ground level as the project got underway.

However, the 30,000-foot view presented Monday was aimed at explaining the range of considerations, and not trying to get into specifics, Heidemann told the board. 

So, the view from afar outlined three alternatives for sewer plant construction, with two options in the first two alternatives and only one option in the third alternative.

The first part of the presentation focused broadly on treatment plant alternatives and the second part explained the scope of services, which would specifically focus on the siting of the plant. The siting would be addressed more in in the board’s closed session.

Lisa, another Town and Country consultant, tried to let the board know that pumps would be needed at a lift station and at the plant itself, and that they would require generators as backup, so the system would continue to run in a power failure.

Heidemann said both options in alternative one would rely on chemical treatment of sewage. A screen similar to one in the current plant would remove larger debris in the sewage as it entered the plant.

Treatment of the sewage would eventually be required by the DNR to get phosphorous levels down to 0.075 parts per million.

The traditional chemical treatment in this alternative is designed to remove water soluble phosphorous and can get levels down to about .6 or .5 parts per million. 

Getting further reduction of phosphorous levels, as the plant will be mandated to do, would require getting phosphorus reduction trading credits from other projects. Those credits would allow the phosphorous levels discharged from the plant to be higher than the mandated levels. 

In rural areas, the credits are typically earned taking on phosphorous reduction projects with local landowners. Those projects could include streambank improvement and gully erosion control to keep soils with high phosphorus levels from entering the water. 

Similarly, helping contain farm manure runoff from feedlots and other areas could also be used to reduce phosphorus entering the waterway. The village could gain phosphorus reduction credits  by participating in these kinds of projects.

Lisa told the board that the new sewer plant could include UV disinfection, instead of the current method that relies on chlorine.

The alternatives

So, the first alternatives were called 1A and 1B. Both were mechanical plants similar to the style currently in use with some upgrades. 

Alternative 1A was a patented plant, which would come as a complete package to be assembled at the site. While 1B would be a traditional round plant designed by Town and Country. Either plant would be using biological treatment processes to remove from the water BOD, phosphorus and ammonia.

Alternative 1A, the Aero MOD patented package plant, has been installed and is being used in Kendall and Ridgeway, according to Heidemann.

Alternative 1B, the circular package plant would be something T&C would design and build. There are also similar plants operating locally in Wisconsin.

Alternative 2A and 2B are proprietary systems based on using sanitary and aqua aerobic processes to remove much smaller particles from sewer water entering the plant. The size of the grit being removed is like sand. The systems are similar to each other, and such a system is being used in Readstown, according to Heidemann.

Alternative 2A, the Aqua Aerobics Sequencing Batch Reactor (SBR), is similar to Alternative 2B, the Sanitaire SBR. Both use SBR specific process building with blowers and controls. Both also have a grit removal addition to the headworks.

Alternative 3 offered just one option. It is known as a Fibracast Membrane Bioreactor (MBR).

Heidemann explained the system is based on sucking water through a very fine membrane. It’s a new system and much more mechanical than the other two alternatives. It also relies on biological phosphorous removal, and includes grit removal addition to the headworks.

The engineer said the membrane bio-reactor was not cost effective at this point, and was really not worth considering because at the higher cost the DNR would not approve it for funding.

Cost options

Heidemann said the various alternatives and options would be presented in a format that allows cost comparisons. The first cost would be the capital cost, and include everything from construction costs, profits of firms in the project, administration and more. The second cost would be the day-to-day operating cost, and the third cost would be the amount placed in a replacement fund savings account. 

The 20-year cost calculated at present worth would then be compared and the DNR would require the village to take the alternative that would be the lowest present worth cost.

However, while the DNR would require the choice to be the lowest feasible cost, they also consider anything  within 10 percent of the lowest cost to be the same and therefore acceptable.

All the options in alternatives 1 and 2 the DNR would consider equal as ballpark estimates would range from $9.1 to $9.8 million for the four options

However, the DNR would not fund Alternative 3, because the cost would exceed $11 million.

Making a decision

Heidemann told the board that Town and Country is by no means rushing a decision on choosing an alternative. He noted when a decision was made, within a month after decision a plan for user rate impacts would be presented.

The engineer urged the board to consider visiting nearby plants and talking with the operators to see if they were happy with the decision made or would think about other alternatives.

Heidemann asked if the board wanted to ask questions and proceed with the discussion at this meeting or wait to future meaning to have the discussion.

Village trustee Kevin Murray said he favored waiting until next month, when the board can generate more useful questions based on the information presented. The board appeared to agree with Murray and the discussion did not take place.

In other business

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• learned the village had earned a high grade for its wastewater compliance maintenance report and passed a resolution approving the report

• learned in a report by pool supervisor Sam Gallagher that the pool will open for limited hours next week while six lifeguards complete their training

• decided that Stump Dodger Campground must either pay a sewer rate for sewage coming from the campground to the nearby treatment station dump site, or remove a sign indicating people not using the campground must pay for using village’s sewer dump site 

• scheduled the next meeting for Monday, July 11 because the Fourth of July falls on the first Monday of the month.

• learned from Carol Roth that a revised recovery plan for the village would help with securing development projects–the current plan was developed in 2008

• was informed by village president that the $19,000 required to create an updated recovery plan was not in available in the budget at this time

• approved a resolution authorizing the sale of Lot 27 in First Addition to North Mills to Joe and Ashley Brown

• approved numerous operator license applications 

• approved annual alcohol beverage license applications for New Horizons Supply Corporation for the Marketplace; the Kickapoo Exchange Natural Foods Co-op, the Dolgencorp LLC for the Dollar General Store; Halver’s Town Tap and the M and M Bar

• approved a variety of licenses for cigarette sales, machine licenses and three temporary Class B liquor licenses