With the City of Fort Atkinson barreling toward a state-mandated deadline to complete a multi-million dollar upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant’s ability to filter out phosphorous, city council members on Tuesday night approved taking multiple steps toward that goal.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the city must have construction completed on the project by May 31, 2023, and the system must achieve compliance with new phosphorous limits by June 30, 2023.

It has been 28 years since the treatment plant’s last major construction project, according to Wastewater Utility supervisor Paul Christensen. He added that the system, which logs an average of 2.7 million gallons of wastewater flow through per day, is starting to show age.

After the new system is built, the design will last for decades, Christensen said.

“The design will last about 40 years,” Christensen said. “The equipment could last less, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it last 30 years.”

Planning and design work toward compliance already has taken place and the city is getting ready to begin construction on phase one of the project.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, the city accepted a $1,067,000 bid from Gilbank Construction of Clinton to do the construction work.

This money will come from the utility equipment replacement funds and the utility reserve fund.

Engineering firm Donohue and Associates, which has been involved in the project since the design of phase one in March 2019, was selected as the firm for the next parts of the project.

The firm will be used to oversee construction and then ensure the system was built properly, Christensen said. This service will cost $63,500.

In addition, the firm will provide design services on phase two of the seven-phase project. The city will spend $676,900 for this work.

Finally, the council approved the purchase of pumping equipment to be installed during phase one construction. The city is purchasing the equipment separately from the project’s general contractor as a way to save money.

The pumping equipment is manufactured by Flygt Water Solutions of Pewaukee and costs $163,792.

Christensen said the current system runs on Flygt equipment, so the city already has all the special tools and expertise required for running and maintaining the system.

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