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La Crosse seeks funding for wastewater cleaning project

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The city of La Crosse is looking into a renovation of its wastewater treatment plant, aimed at reducing one type of water pollution.

The entire project at the treatment plant might cost up to $40 million.

Even though water utility managers admitted Monday to the city’s public works board that a multi-million dollar cost sounds scary, they argue that the expense is spread out among 85,000 users in the La Crosse area.

The Board of Public Works did give the water utility permission to apply for government ‘Clean Water’ funding of $1-2 million that could help pay for a phosphorus reduction plan.

Utility manager Bernie Lenz says it’s a good time for the city to do that project.

“We have no debt,” Lenz said at Monday morning’s meeting. “We paid off all of our previous improvements. It’s been a long time since we’ve done anything to the plant. It’s just our time to do those improvements.”

While the main goal for the funding is to cut down on phosphorus levels going to the river, Lenz says there may also be efforts to use methane for energy.

“Looking at using the methane to then heat the digesters, improve the digster heaters and take the waste energy from that, to do that and actually burn it to produce electricity,” Lenz said Monday morning meeting with the city’s Board of Public Works, which approved the application.

A plan for construction at the wastewater plant could be submitted to the city council by March.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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