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Colfax approves $33,000 for lagoon improvements to reduce phosphorus

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — It’s all about the phosphorus.

The Colfax Village Board has approved spending $33,375 at the village’s wastewater treatment lagoons to install electricity, a chemical feed pump, a converter, and for Solar Bee upgrades in attempt to better control the phosphorus discharge.

The village board approved spending the money at the April 28 meeting on the recommendation of the public works committee.

The new wastewater treatment permit for Colfax issued by the state Department of Natural Resources went into effect on April 1 and will expire March 31, 2019.

The new permit establishes a phosphorus limit of 4 milligrams per liter.

The village has previously discharged between 8 and 10 milligrams of phosphorus per liter of wastewater.

From January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2016, the village’s phosphorus limit will be 3 milligrams per liter.

By 2017, the permit will require the village to discharge 1.5 milligrams of phosphorus per liter at a discharge rate of 60,000 to 70,000 gallons per day or 1 milligram of phosphorous per liter at the design flow rate of 105,000 gallons per day.

Last year, as part of a pilot study, Colfax began applying alum with a gravity feed system to treat the wastewater and was able to reduce the phosphorus to 2.5 milligrams per liter.

Alum binds with the phosphorus particles, causing the phosphorus to settle out on the bottom of the lagoon.

Unfortunately, applying alum with a gravity feed system is inefficient and perhaps not as effective.

Electricity is necessary to operate a chemical feed pump for the alum, said Rand Bates, director of public works.

Using a chemical feed pump will ensure a continuous supply of alum, and upgrading the Solar Bees will ensure that they work continuously to mix the alum into the water instead of only working during the day, he said.

Installing electricity at the lagoons will cost $6,500; the chemical feed pump will cost $5,725; a power converter will cost $844; upgrades to the Solar Bees will cost $20,306.

The budget for 2014 contains $30,000 for lagoon maintenance, noted Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the improvements for the wastewater treatment lagoons.

The lower phosphorus limit is part of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for phosphorus that the DNR established for the 1900-square-mile Red Cedar Watershed.

Phosphorus run-off from the entire watershed drains into Tainter Lake and Lake Menomin, and the phosphorus from Colfax is only a small percentage of the entire phosphorus load.

The soil in this area is naturally high in phosphorus, and water coming out of the tap in Colfax is already high in phosphorus.

Colfax discharges to the Red Cedar River, and the wastewater treatment lagoons discharge from May until November.

Phosphorus is the nutrient implicated in the toxic algae blooms every summer in Tainter Lake and Lake Menomin that turn the water into the color and consistency of green paint.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Approved a training request from Sheila Riemer, deputy clerk, to attend a Microsoft Excel basic skills class in Eau Claire on June 12.

• Approved donating $250 toward the J.D. Simons memorial stone that will be dedicated for the founder of Colfax at Hill Grove Cemetery on Saturday, July 19, during the Colfax Sesquicentennial. Colfax historian Troy Knutson had gathered $710 in donations as of April 28. The total cost of a stone for J.D. Simons and work on the stone for Mary Simons will cost approximately $1,400.

• Approved moving forward with the proposed Tax Increment District No. 3 amendment to allow projects within a half mile of the boundary. Extending the TID boundary will allow the district to be used as a funding mechanism for the Fourth Avenue street improvement project. Cedar Corporation will administer the process of amending the TID at a cost not to exceed $4,500. The process of amending the TID will include a public hearing, a review by the joint review board, and formal approval of the amended boundary by the Colfax Village Board.

• Approved ordinance 2014-04 related to abandoning private wells.

• Approved hiring Keinn Steffe as the part-time 30-hour laborer for the public works department.