City clarifies wastewater digester project

By Dave Fidlin


While Whitewater officials are working vigorously to plan for an upgrade of the city’s aging wastewater treatment facility, an outright replacement of the existing bio-digester is not expected to be part of the process.

Tim Reel, Whitewater’s wastewater superintendent, said the city is not planning to construct a new digester as part of a revised plan adopted March 3 by the Common Council.

“We did, however, ask consultants to investigate further utilizing the existing capacity of the digesters that have been in service since 1982,” Reel said.

Touted as a sustainable, eco-friendly solution, bio-digesters use microorganisms found in waste material to break down biodegradable items.

The city has been working with Milwaukee-based consulting firm Donohue and Associates, which specializes in wastewater processes, to plan for the future of the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

While some areas of the wastewater treatment plant are due for upgrades and replacements, the city does plan to work within the confines of its existing digester infrastructure.

“The digesters that we have are simply underutilized, and the question asked of the consultants was, ‘How can we make wise use of this asset?’” Reel said.

Donohue is providing the city with design and bidding services related to the wastewater treatment facility. The city’s contract with the firm totals $1.3 million. The actual construction work is expected to clock in at $20.7 million.

To bring the upgrades to fruition, the city will need to raise utility fees. Plans are in motion to announce the extent of those increases by Aug. 1, and the new rates would go into effect early next year.

Reel is encouraging residents to visit the city’s website,, for additional information on the city’s plans to upgrade the wastewater treatment facility.

“We are very interested in educating the public on this important water quality project,” he added.

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