Poplar treatment plant expands for schoolsMADISON – After a three-year process, funding was approved this week for a $1.3 million expansion of the village of Poplar’s wastewater treatment plant enlarged in order to accommodate Maple School District’s elementary and middle schools.
By: By Kevin Murphy, For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON – After a three-year process, funding was approved this week for a $1.3 million expansion of the village of Poplar’s wastewater treatment plant enlarged in order to accommodate Maple School District’s elementary and middle schools.
When completed this fall, the two schools will pump sewage about a mile to the village’s newly expanded plant. The village’s plant has been serving Northwestern High School for about two years.
About three years ago, the school district began looking for a way to replace its antiquated sewer lagoons at the two schools. Unlike, municipalities, school districts aren’t eligible for as many grants and loan programs, said Maple’s Business Manager Paul Staffrude. Partnering with the village made economic sense, he said.
The village has until December to meet a Department of Natural Resources order to meet effluent standards, and combining the school and village sewer systems is a “win-win” situation, for both parties.
“The (sewer) ponds at the two schools were outdated and failing….and it would have cost us more to replace them then hooking onto the village’s system… We really had no other alternative,” Staffrude said.
The state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands on Tuesday approved a $332,500 loan to the village, which is the local share required to get a $997,500 grant from the Army Corps of Engineers. The school district, which paid for engineering studies and grant application fees, will repay the state loan to the village through an annual sewer assessment, Staffrude said.
The state loan has a 15-year term and its 5.25 percent interest rate will be cut by 1.6 percent by DNR funds, said Doug Stanley, Poplar sewer commission chair and village trustee.
“We’ll benefit too, (as a village)…We lost our biggest single customer when General Foods closed its processing plant here a year ago. Our (treatment) volumes have gone down along with our revenues,” Stanley said.
The project adds an insulated lagoon adjacent to the village’s treatment plant, a pressurized main to connect the schools to the plant, and equipment to improve the plant’s treatment efficiency.
Stanley and Staffrude expect the project to be completed by October.
RJS Construction Group of Superior, which built Poplar’s treatment plant in 1998, was the apparent low bidder for the project. The village board will meet next month to award the bid, said Stanley.
The school district hasn’t determined the cost to clean out and reclaim the sewer ponds at the two schools, said Staffrude. That project will be funded by school taxpayers and is projected to be done next year.
Stanley said the Corps of Engineers grant was an appropriation put together last year by U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau.
“We had a moratorium on (Corps) funding for a year and when we could reapply the cost of the project went up. You hear a lot of bad things about earmarks but this money came from Dave Obey’s work that allowed local officials to determine how it should be spent,” Stanley said.
In other action, the village of Oliver was loaned $43,000 by the Board of Public Land Commissioners to purchase a backhoe.