Storm drain

The village of Cottage Grove will use dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to fund water and sewage projects over the next two years.

Cottage Grove public works committee members voted Oct. 5 to use a combined $760,000 in ARPA funds to pay for a new sanitary sewer interceptor near the former Farm Golf Course, as well as the dredging and reshaping of Thaden Pond, a stormwater treatment pond.

Although ARPA, a federal pot of roughly $1.9 trillion, is meant to facilitate a country-wide bounce back from the economic damages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cottage Grove Public Works Director JJ Larson said ARPA funds used specifically for sewer and water infrastructure are not required to be tied to pandemic related issues.

Installation of a new sewer interceptor along Vilas Road, at the site of what used to be The Farm Golf Course but is now leased to Door Creek Golf Course, has been a long time coming, Larson said.

An interceptor is a major part of the sewage line that receives wastewater flow and helps carry it to the treatment facility, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Committee members said placing a sewer interceptor near the golf course will “relieve” a quickly increasing flow of sewage in the village.

“The sanitary sewage in the village… flows down Southing Grange, and all of the growth that’s happened recently… is adding to that sanitary sewer,” said Larson.

That increase in sewage is becoming too much for the Southing Grange pipe to handle on its own, said John Williams, village president and chair of the public works committee.

“All of that sanitary going down Southing Grange, the system’s not designed that way,” he said. “It’s designed to have a secondary main trunk too.”

A memo from Larson to the public works committee stated that a new interceptor could also be a catalyst for land development.

“The installation of this sanitary line... could also spur development of The Farm property and encourage the landowners of the platted land north to develop theirs, which includes frontage along Cottage Grove Road,” the memo reads. “These lots have not developed, likely due to the fact that sanitary installation would require significant over-building in order to flow to the existing village lines.”

Larson said construction could happen between 2022 and 2023, with a price tag of $460,000, all of which will come from ARPA funds.

The remaining $300,000 in ARPA funds will be put toward improvements to Thaden Pond, an essential piece of the village’s stormwater treatment system.

A memo from Larson states that the project will include an analysis, engineering, cleanout, dredging and potential reshaping of the pond.

He described it as “the most cost-effective way” for the village to improve the quality of its stormwater by removing total suspended solids and total phosphorus from the liquid.

Without these improvements, the village could see limits to the growth of aquatic plants and various aquatic habitats, as well as higher phosphorus, which promotes the growth of harmful algae blooms in the water supply.

“It’s the kind of thing that offers you not only water quality treatment but protection from increased climate activity,” Larson said. “The more our storm water system can handle these events, the better place we are [in].”

Williams said he’s “concerned every day” that the village will take a big hit from a storm and not have a stormwater management system that can handle it.

“[Thaden Pond] clearly is not ready for that kind of event, and may not be ready even if we did [improve it] but, but hopefully it would handle [it],” the village president said.

The $300,000 in ARPA funds will put a dent in the estimated cost of more than $660,000 for the project, with Larson saying it’s “only going to get more costly” as time goes on.

Village Engineer Josh Straka said the public works department could potentially apply for more state and county funds to make up for the remaining cost.

Construction is slated for 2023, Larson said.

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