Every Valuable Drop

The City of Abbotsford's Search for Additional Water Supply Leads to Sustainable Water Treatment Plant

The City of Abbotsford, Wis. was running out of water, putting jobs and the local economy at risk. Located in the middle of the state’s farm belt, there is no traditional surface water source nearby and the region has some of the state’s most challenging aquifer geology.

The community of 2,300 is surrounded by fields of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. The area’s largest employer is a custom meat processing firm, which had recently expanded for the third time bringing its employee count to 680.

However, without a new water source and upgraded water treatment capabilities, the community could not continue to meet existing residential, agricultural and industrial water demands, much less accommodate projected growth.

image of treatment plant
The water treatment plant is designed for functionality while minimizing overall building space and footprint.

Locating a New Water Source

As the old wells were being depleted, with only a little spring rebound, Abbotsford was beginning to exceed the safe yield of the City’s aquifer. A breakthrough occurred when the City was able to negotiate a well exploration agreement with the owner of 500 acres of land two miles east of the City.

Twelve vertical collector wells were sited on the property, along granite fractures in the Porky Creek and Eau Pleine River valleys. The areas where some new collector wells were sited contained significant environmental permitting challenges, including wetlands, stream crossings, floodplains, and most significantly, a protected turtle species.

image of pipes
The raw water from the 12 collector wells enters the plant in a centralized location.

Saving Every Valuable Drop

With the scarcity of abundant groundwater, property owners in the Abbotsford area are very protective of the resource. With this in mind, SEH designed the treatment plant with numerous water and energy conservation features, including variable frequency drives on most pumps to conserve energy.

Abbotsford is a small community with big city water treatment needs. Without a new water source and upgraded water treatment capabilities, the community could not continue to meet existing water demands, much less accommodate projected growth.

Backwash reclaim water is piped to settling tanks under the plant floor. Decant water is introduced back into the treatment process and solids are settled a second time in lagoons with decant water introduced upstream of the collection wells by means of a constructed wetland and natural wetland areas.

The design of the plant site uses stormwater biofilters to treat water runoff that can infiltrate the groundwater. The treatment plant design emphasized energy efficiency by minimizing window and door areas. Outside make-up air for the aerators is used instead of building conditioned air, which saves energy.

All areas of the project were designed to keep the footprint as small as possible. Pitless well units were used instead of individual well buildings. Prairie grass areas were incorporated around project structures to enhance biodiversity and minimize maintenance.

image of lake
The project incorporates a two stage water recycling process that returns treated backwash water into the groundwater aquifer.

Construction Phasing to Address Water Shortages

Concern about maintaining an adequate water supply during the construction period led the City to construct a temporary water treatment facility. The project was completed in two phases due to the immediate water shortage the City was facing. Initially, four new wells were brought on line using a temporary water treatment plant constructed within a semi trailer that was used for the twoyear water reuse pilot study.

The temporary plant treated the water from the four wells, two at a time, on a 24/7 basis. It was connected to the City’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system by a permanent fiber optic line that would serve the Eau Pleine facility when fully complete.

The City conducted several public meetings prior to, during and near the completion of construction to keep residents and other stakeholders informed of progress.

Contact Steve Peterson

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