Beaver Dam Council Tasked With Multi-Million Dollar Phosphorus Decision In 2018

12/28/17 – One of the hardest decisions before the Beaver Dam Common Council this coming year will be the selection of a multi-million-dollar plan to control the phosphorus that enters the Beaver Dam River from the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Director of Utilities Rob Minnema discussed the issue with us recently on WBEV’s Community Comment. After the current treatment plant was built in 2011, the EPA and DNR mandated strict phosphorus limitations as part of the permitting process. The newly required limits were projected to cost the city as much or more than the $20-million dollars it had just spent on the new treatment facility. Minnema says, at the time, the city had just completed a plant upgrade and there were concerns about costs so the permit was contested. In 2014, the city council voted to hire a law firm to fight the permit requirement. After three years, a possible agreement was reached that still requires strict phosphorus limits but also allows the city to evaluate its options while bypassing some benchmarks. Minnema says there was give-and-take on the pounds of phosphorus that the city is allowed to discharge. The process is underway with the goal of having the issue resolved well in advance of a 2023 deadline. Minnema says the plan was submitted to the EPA by years end. Once approved, the city council is left with the decision on which of four multi-million-dollar phosphorus removal projects to choose. The city is exploring options including chemicals and-or water filtration systems, or the construction of a standalone facility connected to the treatment plant that would take phosphorus and nitrogen and convert it to a revenue-generating biomass. Tomorrow, we will explore the options the city council will be looking at early next year. You can hear our entire conversation with Minnema here: