Written by MARK JAEGER
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 16:26
Collaborative approach would help communities address wastewater issues
The Fredonia Village Board learned last month it is going to cost considerably more than expected to join a coalition of municipal wastewater treatment plant operators.
At the board’s first meeting in July, trustees approved contracting with the engineering firms Ruekert/Mielke and Graef to join the Mid-Moraine Water Quality Collective.
The coalition of 14 communities along the Milwaukee River watershed hopes to tap the technical expertise of the engineering firms to plan regional watershed solutions and pursue grants.
Organizers said the hope is that as the group grows in numbers and reputation, it will become a strong voice on the topics of stormwater and wastewater regulations in dealings with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The Village of Jackson has taken on the lead role in the collective.
One of the primary focuses of the collective will be formulating strategies responding to the tightened state standards for phosphorus in water discharged from treatment plants.
When the notion of joining the collective was presented to the board, Fredonia trustees presumed the $2,500 cost was for the entire collective — placing the village share at about $200.
The motion to join the collective was unanimously approved.
Village Engineer Roger Strohm told trustees last week that the village’s share for joining the group is actually the $2,500 amount.
“I feel it is still worthwhile, being able to pursue grant opportunities and having access to the expertise involved,” Strohm said.
He said the cost includes research that will benefit all members of the group as well as up to $700 for adjusting studies to apply specifically to Fredonia.
If no community-specific work is requested, the village would not be responsible for the $700.
“You can anticipate spending $1,800 for sure,” Strohm said.
Although supporting the idea of seeking collaborative answers to meeting water quality issues, Trustee Don Dohrwardt said he was skeptical that the water quality collective includes nonprofit environmental groups that may have different motivation than municipalities.
“It concerns me there are groups that may support solutions to water quality issues without being stewards of tax dollars, but I think it is a good idea to join in the effort as a matter of self-preservation and protection for the village,” Dohrwardt said.
The board postponed making a decision on whether to join the collective until Strohm attended a free informational meeting this month.