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City considers $80M wastewater treatment facility upgrade, rate hike

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By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — Residents in Wausau will see their water bills increase by an estimated $144 per year to fund a proposed $80 million upgrade to the city’s wastewater treatment facility, which serves Wausau, Schofield and the industrial park in the village of Weston.

The city has contracted with Sheboygan-based Donohue and Associates for preliminary design services, which is expected to cost $1,113,875. The upgrades are meant to enhance safety, reliability and performance for the facility, which was constructed in three phases beginning in 1939.

Wastewater treatment facilities that discharge to Wisconsin water bodies, such as Wausau’s, are regulated by the Department of Natural Resources through the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Wausau’s current permit, required because of discharge to the Wisconsin River, expired on Dec. 30, 2015, according to city documents. The next permit will include a low-level phosphorous limit that the current facility is not equipped to comply with.

Wausau first retained Donohue and local partner Becher Hoppe in April 2017 to perform facility planning and develop a 20-year plan to address safety, capacity and regulatory compliance concerns. Together, the two companies completed a comprehensive evaluation of more than 90 alternatives to address Wausau’s needs before narrowing the alternatives down to five.

The final recommended plan aims to include potential that will expand the service area over the next 20 years that could include services for the villages of Brokaw, Maine and Marathon City.

The overall plan includes building three new structures, modifying several others, replacing aging equipment and replacing the electrical service and emergency power system, according to Donohue’s proposal.

Donohue will serve as lead design consultant while Becher Hoppe and Samuels Group are named as design subconsultants for the project.

A meeting of the Wausau Water Works Commission is set for 1:30 p.m. June 26 at City Hall.

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