Water Tower | La Porte City, IA

Nothing “Watered Down” About This Convention

Pat Morrow, PE | with 0 Comments


Nothing “Watered Down” About This Convention

The water and wastewater professionals of MSA are back from their attendance at the annual Wisconsin Rural Water Association convention in Green Bay.
 
Here are some of the hot topics from the convention.
 
Phosphorus Compliance
Phosphorus compliance continues to be a big issue in Wisconsin. As more communities are receiving their permit renewals from the DNR, they are having to come to terms with reduced phosphorus effluent limits. With the Wisconsin State Legislature passing a phosphorus variance last month, there may be more options on the table. Greg Gunderson from MSA gave a presentation that covered phosphorus compliance.
 
Odor Control
I teamed up with Dean Olson, Public Works Director for the Village of Holmen, to discuss an innovative pilot test that is ongoing in Holmen.  Future plans for a regional pump station and nearly five miles of forcemain to convey Holmen’s wastewater to Onalaska are slated to begin in 2016.  Due to the potential for odors at the discharge location in Onalaska, the pilot test aims to determine feasibility and cost effectiveness of odor control.
 
Frozen Pipes
The extremely cold winter has many communities concerned about frozen pipes. While we’ve experienced warmer weather lately, the ground is still frozen and causing problems. Many communities have advised homeowners to run a pencil-sized stream of water 24-7 to keep pipes from freezing. This has helped ease the strain on water utility staff, but has led to an additional problem: all of that extra water is inundating wastewater treatment plants and causing treatment concerns at some facilities.
 
Operator Retirements
Operator retirements will be a major issue that communities will deal with in the near future.  Many water and wastewater treatment operators have been in their communities for 20-30 years and plan to retire soon. Many of these communities are a one-person shop and may struggle to find replacements.
 
What a Disaster!
Public Service Commission (PSC) administrator Jeff Stone mentioned, as part of his “PSC updates” speech, that the PSC is pursuing measures to have Wisconsin’s severe winter of 2013-14 classified as a natural disaster.  This would mean that cash-strapped utilities will be able to obtain financial relief for expenses incurred due to weather (running water, thawing mains & services, etc.).

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