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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — The Elk Mound Village Board is expected to consider whether the village should start the third phase of planning this year for the reduction of phosphorus discharge from the village’s wastewater treatment plant.
The compliance schedule has four phases, and the first two phases have already been completed, said Tim Stockman of Davy Engineering at the Elk Mound Village Board’s January 17 meeting.
The state Department of Natural Resources has set a phosphorus limit of .075 milligrams per liter for the village’s wastewater treatment plant, and the discharge was 3 mg/L in 2020, he said.
The first phase is to assess residences and businesses to see if there is a way to reduce the amount of phosphorus.
There are no particular sources of phosphorus going into the treatment plant that are beyond what would normally be expected, Stockman said.
Elk Mound has 5 to 7 parts per million of phosphorus entering the treatment plant, and that is in the normal range for residential usage, he said.
The second phase is to assess the wastewater treatment plant to see if anything can be done to optimize the treatment process, but nothing stood out in the assessment of the treatment plant, he said.
The third phase is more complicated and will be more expensive to figure out what Elk Mound can do to comply with the DNR limit, Stockman said.
A report with a preliminary compliance schedule is due to the DNR by the end of September, he said.
Since the existing wastewater treatment plant is not able to meet the phosphorus limit, one option can include upgrading the wastewater treatment plant and adding more equipment. Another option is a “water quality trade” with another municipality, Stockman said.
A significant upgrade would be required to add a chemical feed system and a filter system, he said.
The estimate for Ellsworth to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant several years ago was $3 million, Stockman said.
This year, the goal will be determine what is the most feasible for Elk Mound. Next year, the process will involve determining detailed costs and helping the village to identify funding sources, he said.
About 10 years ago, Wisconsin started setting phosphorus limits based on the background stream to which a municipality is discharging, Stockman said, noting that the lowest limit he has seen is .04 mg/L for Roberts.
Phosphorus and nitrogen are the culprits that fuel algae blooms on lakes, he noted.
Davy Engineering is currently working with a small community of 400 or 500 people to do a water quality trade. The cost for upgrading the wastewater treatment plant would be about $8 million otherwise, Stockman said.
The Settlers Ridge Development in Elk Mound will present challenges with water supply and water treatment, said Steven Abraham, village president.
The preliminary plan would be to reduce the phosphorus discharge to a certain point with the wastewater treatment plant and then do a water quality trade for the rest, Stockman said.
Water quality trading takes a while to develop. Usually Davy Engineering works with a county where there are arrangements with property owners for land management and stormwater run-off programs, he said.
When the programs are identified, then the water quality credits are defined. The credits usually are not a one-to-one, but may be more like 10 pounds of phosphorus discharged from Elk Mound is equal to 30 pounds of phosphorus that had been reduced from a watershed elsewhere, Stockman said.
The Elk Mound Village Board should take some time to consider the proposal and then put it on an agenda for consideration, he said.
The cost to contract with Davy Engineering to identify ways to reduce the phosphorus discharge would be $40,000 over two years — $15,000 for Phase 3 this year and $25,000 for Phase 4 next year, Stockman said.
Elk Mound Police Chief Chad Weinberger started his report to the village board by saying the police department could use more officers.
In 2021, the Elk Mound Police Department had 928 calls and 952 cases, he said.
Traffic is number one on the list, and ordinance violations are number two, Police Chief Weinberger said.
One of the more unusual cases was a puppy scam last year in which someone paid for a puppy online with a credit card but never did get the dog, he said.
The Internet Crimes Against Children unit also has been working in Elk Mound recently because a person of interest has been hanging out in the area, Police Chief Weinberger said.
In other business, the Elk Mound Village Board:
• Approved renewing for 2022 the Limited Term Employment (LTE) of Elk Mound Police Officer Kyle DeVries. Police Chief Weinberger described DeVries as an “incredible asset” for Elk Mound.
• Approved snowmobile, utility terrain vehicle and all-terrain vehicle trails and routes in the village. The maps will be uploaded to the village’s website.
• Approved name changes for the village park ball fields to Rhude Field and Verl Carlstrom Field. The fields, for identification purposes, are known as Field No. 1, Field No. 2 and Field No. 3. Field No. 1 was named Manny Price Field some years back, said Terry Stamm, village trustee. Field No. 2 was known as Julian Rhude Field, but a second brother has passed away, so Lions Club members believe the field should now be called Rhude Field. The third field should be named Verl Carlstrom Field, he said. Carlstrom was a long-time member of the Elk Mound Lions Club, Stamm said. The Lions Club will pay for all expenses associated with naming the ball fields, he said.