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Effects of new state standards unknown
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MONROE - Monroe's Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) will eventually be affected by more stringent state standards for pollution run-off.

"Not yet, but there's a lot to do to prepare for it," said George Thompson, Monroe wastewater treatment plant superintendent.

In June, the Wisconsin Natural Resource Board approved new criteria for agriculture and non-agriculture run-off to improve water quality in the state's waterways. The regulation changes have to be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The new regulations, NR 102 and 217, went through state Senate committee hearings July 28 and will go into effect if the state legislature takes no action by Sept. 7, according to Gordon Stevenson, DNR Run-off Management chief.

The DNR currently permits Monroe's wastewater treatment plant a discharge limit of 1 part per million, or 1 milligram per liter, of contaminants.

The new regulations could potentially lower that limit to 0.1 part per million, Thompson said.

"The regulations are so new we don't know what it'll do to us," he said.

Thompson said the new regulations affecting the city's wastewater treatment plant are two-fold.

One set of criteria regulates water quality for waterways and streams, while the second applies to permit limits for discharges.

Monroe's WWTP must renew its discharge permit in 2015 but the present permit limit will not change until then, Thompson said.

"Even then, the new permit may give a reduction schedule to meet the new standards," he added.

Thompson will use the next five years to study what it'll take to reduce Monroe's discharge concentration.

That study will go hand-in-hand with a current study to expand the facility as the wastewater treatment plant moves closer to reaching its load limit.

"Designs are not even begun," Thompson said. "We are in the stage of finding a consulting firm, and determining what the scope for them will be."

Thompson said the anticipation of the new regulations will be brought to the attention of the consulting firm.

The regulations could also affect the spreading of bio-solids, the by-products of sewage treatment used as fertilizer on rural ground, depending upon how much and where non-point, or wide spread, discharges are allowed, Thompson said.

Non-point discharge regulation impacts construction sites and farms, and "works it's way back to impact us," Thompson said.