Wastewater plant in line for upgrades
By Mike Mathes
Mike Mathes photo
The new biogas conversion equipment was installed at the Kiel Wastewater Treatment Plant Feb. 19. The $1 million project will help the plant use methane by-products for the purpose of generating electricity used by the plant.

Most of the headlines in the wastewater department this new year have focused on the major renovations that are just now hitting the drawing board at the Kiel treatment plant.

It’s almost easy to overlook a $1.3 million upgrade already in process.

By mid-March, the Kiel wastewater treatment plant expects to have its new bio-gas renewable energy project up and running, according to Kiel Utilities Superintendent Kris August.

When completed, the bio-gas generator will be able to use methane from the treatment process to produce about 70 percent of the overall power for the treatment plant. The generator will use the methane to create electricity, while the heat by-product will go to supplement the boiler.

In the past, some of the gas was used to power a boiler at the treatment plant, the efficiencies for that use were not even close to the new figures.

August said the $1.3 million project has payback over five to seven years on the equipment.

As part of the renewable energy effort, the City of Kiel was able to capture a $500,000 Focus on Energy grant to defer the costs.

Aging forces renovation

Kiel’s treatment plant also faces a major set of renovations over the next five years, with the price tag falling in the range of $15-$20 million, depending on the scope of the work.

Aging components of the plant, coupled with increased loadings from expansions at Land O’Lakes have forced the city’s hand on planning the improvements.

August said, however, the city will benefit because it is already planning in those improvements to be able to meet more stringent phosphorous regulations were are coming from regulatory agencies.

In addition to the treatment plant upgrades, one of the options the city is examining includes revamping the process for drying the sludge by-product of treatment.

Currently, the class A sludge carries about 50 percent water content. August said it is hoped the new process will create a sludge that is only 8 percent water, and would more closely resemble a fertilizer consistency.

Electric utility growth

In the fall of 2016, the Kiel Electric Utility will complete work on its Meyer Road Substation to upgrade the power feeds coming into the community.

Prior to a major power outage last September, the utility had already been looking at upgrades to the substation to make its power feed and backup system more dependable.

Working with American Transmission Company and WE Energies, the city hopes to complete the substation improvements next year.

Once completed, the WE Energies feed coming to the substation from Elkhart Lake, will be able to serve as an instant backup for Kiel.

Dedering emphasized that, apart from the one unexpected outage last year, the Kiel Electric Utility has been without major incident. “We have the system running very well and serving the community, largely due to all the improvements that have been made in the last 10 years,” he said.

Kiel owns a five acre parcel at the Meyer Road Substation. Given the space it has available, it made sense to work out a partnering arrangement with WE Energies, who also had been looking at building a substation less than two miles down the road.

Kiel has owned the Meyer Road Substation since 1995 when it was purchased from WE Energies.

The only other improvements planned to the electrical system this year will be done in along Highway 67 to the south, in conjunction state-planned road improvements.

Kiel’s electrical utility provides service to rural customers as far south as Holzmann Road.

Water reliability improvements

The city’s water utility is also looking at improvements in 2016.

According to August, the utility plans to establish a river crossing from River Terrace to Hingiss Park.

Soil borings for mains will be made under the Sheboygan River bed to create the first step for rebuilding the old water lines on Sixth Street. They are some of the older ones in the city, some of which still contain lead.

Both water and sewer on Sixth Street will be replaced in projects funded by Tax Incremental District #5.

The work on Sixth Street would correspond with a rebuild of the Sixth Street roadway. In addition to needing a resurfacing, the road will be widened to handle modern day traffic needs.