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Great Lakes Article:

Bayfield gets grant for zero-discharge wastewater plant
Business North (MN and WI)
Published November 29th, 2004

BAYFIELD, Wis. -- Governor Jim Doyle announced today that Bayfield and Pikes Bay Sanitary District will receive a $500,000 state grant to build a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant that will virtually remove all pollutants from wastewater before releasing it into Lake Superior.

The "zero discharge" plant will be the first in Wisconsin designed to perform at a level significantly exceeding state and federal standards. While not technically eliminating all pollutants, the plant is expected to release wastewater containing nearly 70 percent less pollutants than a conventional plant.

"I am pleased to help support Bayfield-area residents in their commitment to protect Lake Superior," Governor Doyle said. "They have, through choosing to build and operate this new plant, volunteered to clean wastewater significantly beyond what state standards require. I hope the communities' example will spur similar efforts to protect our Greatest Lake."

George Hansen, president of the Pikes Bay Sanitary District, said that one of the reasons the two communities came together to build the plant "is we live on one of the greatest lakes in the world, and it is important to maintain the water quality and the environmental aspects of Lake Superior."

They also wanted to capitalize on available state and federal funding and the opportunity to jointly own and operate their wastewater treatment plant, Hansen said. In addition to the $500,000 Great Lakes Protection Fund grant from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the communities will receive grants and zero or low interest loans from the Clean Water Fund that DNR administers, and a grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"It's a win-win," said Bayfield Mayor John-Eric Anderson. "Itís a great indication of how well the state and the communities can work together to develop a better product. It's helping the whole Bayfield Peninsula have a much better plant and thereby provide even better protection for Lake Superior."

Eliminating releases of pollutants to Lake Superior is particularly important because pollutants can remain in that lake for a long time, according to Chuck Ledin, who leads DNR's Office of Great Lakes. Water flows very slowly out of Lake Superior, the largest and deepest of the Great Lakes. Water remains in the lake for 191 years, compared to 99 years for Lake Michigan and 2.5 years for Lake Erie.

As a result, contaminants in Lake Superior water and sediment can accumulate in the food chain, causing elevated contaminant levels in fish and wildlife and triggering consumption advisories, Ledin said.

Bayfield and Pikes Bay worked together with DNR and Strand Associates Inc., a Madison civil engineering firm, to design the new regional facility and the communities have formed a new commission to manage it.

The new wastewater treatment plant will replace two existing treatment facilities two miles apart. It will serve the Pikes Bay Sanitary District, which includes the eastern portion of the Town of Bayfield, and the City of Bayfield, and will be sized to handle a population of about 1,600 people and treat about 300,000 gallons per day of wastewater.

The plant will use an innovative filtering technology in addition to the conventional treatment units to reduce the amount of solids and organic materials in wastewater. The plant will eliminate most nitrogen and phosphorus and will provide an effective disinfection system to protect public health, Ledin said.

In addition to its superior wastewater treatment, the plant also incorporates other technology to reduce its impact on the environment, including reducing energy usage, Ledin said. Construction of the new facility is underway and the plant should start operating in early 2006.

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