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Lakeland Sanitary District looks at phosphorous

November 15, 2019 by Brian Jopek

With receipt from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by the Lakeland Sanitary District (LSD) of a new five year phosphorous permit, LSD superintendent Cully Akey said that outlines things the district needs to do to meet guidelines. 

“The DNR’s put new phosphorous limits on us,” he said following a meeting Tuesday of the district’s three member board. “Phosphorous is in all wastewater and it looked like they (DNR) were gonna lower the limit quite a bit.”

That wouldn’t be good news for the LSD but recently, Akey said there’s been indications the DNR might back off “a little bit”on the phosphorous limits.

Even so, he said the new limits won’t be known for sure until July or August of 2020.

“But we have to have this report done in June,” Akey said. 

With the new DNR permit, the first step the district needs to take is complete that report, which could cost up to $15,000.

Depending on what’s found over the course of the next several months, improvements at the LSD could become multi-level, multi-year in nature. 

Akey said with the budget for 2020, the decision was made to go with this first step.

“In the future, we may have these possibilities,” he said, referring to the other steps that if needed, would result in improvements if not new construction at some point. 

“How I presented it to the board was that we’re gonna have to do all this stuff,” Akey said. “And the price tag is big. My theory is whoever does the first study will be doing the last one — you know, keeping the same company here — if we have to go to the last step.”

Board president Tom Wipperfurth hopes that won’t be the case. 

“If we keep upgrading at a pace we can afford instead of being forced into something where we’re gonna have to spend millions ... if we can slow the pace down and do a little here and a little there, that’s the ideal situation,” he said. 

If the DNR ends up wanting everything done by 2024, Wipperfurth said that puts the LSD “over the barrel.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Randy Wirtz with Strand Associates made a presentation with background information for the study.

At next month’s meeting, MSA Professional Services will make their “sales pitch.”

“We’ll decide who we’re comfortable with if the numbers are somewhat close,” Akey said. 

He anticipates a decision on which firm to go with will be made by the LSD board by early January. 

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

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