Recent Phosphorus Rules Could Be Costly For Small Communities

Mar 1, 2016

Blue-green algae
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New phosphorus regulations in place by the state will change what communities need to do to be compliant in their water and wastewater systems, and it could be costly. That assessment from from Pat Morrow, a senior project engineer from MSA Professional Services in Rhinelander.

Pat Morrow says wastewater bills might see an increase as governments with wastewater systems upgrade to the tighter phosphorus discharge rules...

"....with the new phosphorus rule that came up in 2010, it no longer discriminated based on community size. There are small communities, population from 200 to 500, certainly less than 1,000 that are facing these very strict phosphorus limits...."

Morrow says to meet the new rules, that would require a costly upgrade to the treatment facilities. That cost gets passed along to utility users. Morrow says communities need to get ahead of the issue by doing advance planning with professionals.

"....(he state)pretty much treats everyone the same way. In order to best prepare for those(challenges), communities need to get ahead of the game and take the time needed for planning and don't wait until the last minute because things can become more expensive than if you're pro-active...."

Rhinelander opened a new wastewater plant in 2012. Approximately half of the $24 million project was funded by federal stimulus dollars, with users picking up the remaining costs.