I can’t think of a more important issue regarding our cost of living and quality of life than the decisions that are and will be made regarding wastewater treatment strategies.
The best decisions are the result of transparency, effective processes (habits) and citizen awareness of the overall process. Ideal outcomes result from policies, ordinances, and plans where everyone benefits, or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.
In December 2019, the Brown County Regional Sewer District received a $118, 000 grant to fund the development of a Wastewater Infrastructure Strategic Plan.
- Jan 28, 2020, BCD, Sewer board earns $100,000+ grant to do wastewater plan by Sara Clifford
- The cost of the grant-funded project will be $118,000. It required a 10-percent match — $11,800 — which came out the Brown County Redevelopment Commission’s remaining budget at the end of 2019.
- Brown County Matters – Facebook Post on the award of the grant
In January 2020, the BCRSD issued a Request for Proposals (RFPs) that will be used to select the contractor for this plan.
Also in January 2020, a wastewater treatment regionalization study was completed that identifies options for the size and location of treatment plants but not options regarding technologies.
- FINAL REPORT (received and posted Feb 7, 2020)- Preliminary Engineering Report – Regional Assistance Program.
- Summary: “Based on the analysis completed in this report, it appears that is most cost-effective to construct two regional plants to serve the areas under consideration. Table 6-11, following provide the cost and effective analysis of the various alternative combinations considered.”
Determining the optimum wastewater treatment options (septic systems and sewers) for the county cannot be determined until after the strategic plan is completed.
Consequently, the proposed Bean Blossom Sewer project should be “paused” (no more spending) until the wastewater strategic plan is completed. As of February 2020, $200,000 of the $270,000 provided by the county council, has been spent. Land for the plant has not been acquired nor have the 190 required easement agreements been obtained.
The BCRSD has asked to acquire land deeded to Parks and Recreation. If land for a plant could not be obtained from property owners over the past “20 years”, how difficult will it be to acquire the needed easements? Of the 240 potential customers, how many have submitted a letter of support for this project?
Do we need a Brown County RSD?
The regionalization study calls in to question the need for a “county-wide” regional sewer district (RSD). Multiple RSDs that include Helmsburg and Gnaw Bone that have a proven track record of successful operation, maybe the best solution for the county.
- The Gnaw Bone RSD Board requested that board members be elected by those being served by the RSD. Their request was approved by IDEM.
- The Helmsburg RSD Board has also requested elections and will likely be approved.
- The Helmsburg community has also formed a Community Development Corporation (CDC), established an economic development area and developed its own economic development plan. More information:
- A “decentralized” approach for county leadership was identified in the draft 1993 County Comprehensive Plan. This plan was not approved by the commissioners at the time. (See Hamlet and Rural Village Development).
- The documentation for transitioning the Bean Blossom RSD (established in 2006) to the Brown County RSD(2016) is provided in the Regionalization Study, Exhibit 1.