Water rate hike looms with plant projects

Average residential bills could increase $213 annually if village approves plans for treatment facility upgrades
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Village of Grafton is preparing several major projects for its wastewater treatment plant within the next 10 years, which is expected to increase residents’ bills for water use by $213.84 per year.

According to Director of Public Works Amber Thomas, the last major upgrade to the facility at 1900 9th Ave. was 35 years ago. While there have been various equipment improvements done over the years, much of the facility is 35 years or older. Similar facilities are typically designed for a lifespan of 20 years. 

The village has partnered with MSA Professional Services who conducted a study of the wastewater treatment plant and identified almost all of the facilities processes were deficient in at least one area. Almost half the processes referenced in the study were deficient in two or all three categories.

The village’s plan includes three major projects spanning 10 years, which should cost $16.28 million. 

The first project is planned to begin this year and involves work to the wastewater plant’s headworks building, which should cost $7.39 million. Thomas said a portion of the project is budgeted in the Public Works’ 2018 budget.

The second project slated to begin in 2023 involves the facility’s biosolids section, which should cost $6.25 million, and in 2028 an activated sludge project is expected to be $2.64 million.

The draft financial plan illustrates that by 2020, the average user rate required is $51.49 per month, while the current monthly user rate is $33.67 — an increase of $17.82 per month and $213.84 per year.

Last year’s $39.9 million school facilities referendum increased the tax rate by 40 cents per $1,000 equalized home value, which increased property taxes for a $250,000 home by $100.

Last week, the Public Works Committee held a public hearing at Village Hall but no one from the public attended.

Thomas said most of the projects will likely be financed through a loan through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Clean Water Fund with a 20-year term and 1.93% interest rate.

Another reason for the projects, Thomas said, is the expected future growth of the village. The Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission is projecting the village’s service area to increase by 27% in 2038. 

“If we don’t grow as anticipated we won’t be doing all of that work,” Thomas said. 

Thomas said the biosolids and activated sludge projects are only under discussion at this point and will be considered for approval during future yearly budget discussions.

“It will be a year-by-year basis that will be determined around budget time. It is just a plan at this point,” she said. 



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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