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Ground broken for $69 M sewer plant expansion in La Crosse

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Energy efficiency.  Sustainability.  Fertilizer.  Just a few of the desired outcomes of a three-year expansion project at the La Crosse wastewater treatment plant. 

Area leaders gathered Tuesday at Isle La Plume to break ground for a $69 million expansion of the existing plant, originally built in 1936 and last modified extensively in 1972.

Wastewater superintendent Jared Greeno said with the plant designed to convert some waste into electricity, the cost for the average family will be fairly low, about $8 a month per household.

Greeno added that the plant will also be able to treat substances like PFAS chemicals, which could be coming into the sewer system in the future.

Besides taking waste from the area’s sewage, the plant is designed to convert methane into electric power and wastewater. Greeno says that’s an important payoff.

“We’ll generate electricity by burning the methane in an engine to produce electricity to be energy-neutral,” Greeno said.

He told reporters that the cost of expanding the plant would be closer to $400 million if the entire project was being started new.

La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds called the renovation plan “monumental,” and gave credit to recently retired Mayor Tim Kabat for promoting the project.

City utilities manager Bernie Lenz called it a “very big deal.”

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.