Residents ask Agropur to send wastewater to Green Bay sewage plant
Several residents at a Department of Natural Resources hearing Tuesday asked Agropur to treat its wastewater by piping it to Luxemburg and then to the N.E.W. Green Bay sewage treatment plant.
The residents spoke at a DNR hearing regarding the reissuance of a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination (WPDES) permit for the plant at N2915 County AB. The facility makes cheese and processes whey and the facility underwent an expansion during the previous permit term that resulted in an increase in the wastewater discharge volume of approximately 20 percent, according to information provided by the DNR.
The plant discharges into an unnamed tributary of the East Twin River. Once considered one of the county’s most pristine Class I and Class II trout streams and listed as a DNR Legacy Site in 2002, a DNR study of the river in 2011-2012 said that both the water and aquatic life downstream from the plant were impaired.
The new permit calls for a tighter temperature limits and stringent phosphorus limits, and the chloride concentration limit has been reduced to meet the water quality criteria for the receiving stream, according to Nanette Jameson, permit drafter with the DNR. But the mass limit for chloride has increased to accommodate for facility expansion and increased flows, she said.
“Whatever you are putting in the stream, there is no life there,” said Joe Dorner, who lives downstream from the plant. “There were soap bubbles piled three feet high in the river this morning.”
In a Jan. 28 letter to the DNR, Chris Simon from Agropur said that “there has been a significant expansion at the facility which demonstrates the need for expanded mass limits.”
Jameson said that the decreased water quality could be justified under DNR regulations because of the social and economic benefits the cheese plant provided.
But Lynn Utesch of Kewaunee Cares, a Democratic candidate for state Assembly, said that the DNR was not looking at the social and economic benefits lost because of the pollution for residents of Kewaunee County and those who owned property along the river who want to use it for trout fishing and recreation.
Bill Iwen, a retired dentist, said that the DNR should exercise its full regulatory powers to work with Agropur to find a environmentally safe alternative to dispose of the waste generated by its plant. He suggested that Agropur could direct its wastewater through Luxemburg to the N.E.W. Green Bay sewage treatment plant.
Nancy Utesch of Kewaunee Cares said Agropur was a billion-dollar Canadian company that could afford the expense of the approximately seven-mile pipeline that would be required to have its wastewater treated at the Luxemburg and Green Bay sewage facilities.
“Agropur, as an act of goodwill, should start doing restoration of our trout stream,” she said.
Joe Musil, who owns property on the East Twin River, testified to the anxiety the pollution from the plant has caused residents along the river.
“This wastewater interferes with our public right to use the river for recreation,” he said.
Tom Dobbins, who said he lives across from the river, told DNR officials “the river is dead.”
“This is very emotional,” he said. “People are down and tired here.”
Dobbins said he caught brown trout in the river in the 1970s.
“I would like to go fishing there with my grandchildren,” said Dobbins. “But there are no fish at all now off St. Peter’s Road.”
Agropur officials at the meeting said they had “no comment” on information presented at the hearing.
James Schmidt, DNR water resources engineer, said that the Green Bay sewage treatment plant could be examined as a cost-effective alternative for treating the plant’s wastewater if the Agropur plant continued to expand.
Karen Ebert Yancey can be reached at [email protected], on Facebook at Kewaunee County Star News Facebook, on Twitter at @EbertYancey or by calling 920-559-1235.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Residents ask Agropur to send wastewater to Green Bay sewage plant