Plan Would Give Sewer Treatment Plants More Time To Comply With Standards

Clean Wisconsin Says DNR Report Inflates Cost To Communities, Ignores Benefits

Port Washington sewer treatment plant
Brett VA (CC-BY)  

A hearing on Wednesday in Wisconsin Dells will look at a proposal to give industries and municipalities more time to reduce phosphorus discharges into Wisconsin waterways.

The plan is called the Multi-discharger Phosphorus Variance. Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources said in return for city sewage treatment plants and companies getting more time to comply with phosphorus limits, the point sources would commit to gradually reducing phosphorus while helping pay for reductions of phosphorus runoff from farm fields and other non-point sources.

However, attorney Elizabeth Wheeler of Clean Wisconsin contends a state review of the plan inflates the cost of upgrading treatment plants and leaves out the potential financial benefits to shoreline property owners.

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“You don’t want that waterbody to be polluted with toxic algae, you want to be able to enjoy it, and swim in it and fish in it, and so there is that direct economic value,” she said.

Wheeler also said local tourism-related businesses gain when companies and cities reduce phosphorus pollution.