By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — The first of two proposed sewer rate hikes in Wausau will cost the average homeowner about $100 per year, according to a public notice issued this week.
The proposed sewer rate increase is being recommended by the Wausau Waterworks Commission to fund a proposed $80 million wastewater facility upgrade. City officials say the first increase will cost an average residential user $8.59 per month, which calculates to a $25.76 increase in the average quarterly bill.
Wausau Waterworks is proposing borrowing the funds using the Clean Water Fund Program, a federally subsidized loan program. The program is a federal-state partnership that provides communities a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects.
Wausau aims to borrow funds in 2020 for the project to will allow the current facility to meet new, stricter phosphorous and capacity requirements while improving safety, reliability and performance.
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.
The yet-to-be determined second rate increase, proposed for 2020, will depend on the final design and engineering estimate for the project, according to Public Works Director Eric Lindman.
Residents can have their say and learn more about the project at a pubic hearing, which will include a short five-minute presentation prior to public comment. The hearing is set for 5 p.m. Oct. 17 at Wausau City Hall, 407 Grant St., Wausau. PowerPoint slides are available here.
Image courtesy: Michael Martens, Wausau Interactive, LLC