Sherman board hears wastewater pipeline proposal

Rodney Schroeter
of The Review staff

SHERMAN — Milk Specialties would like to build a pipeline from its Adell plant, westward for about three miles, to dispose of wastewater.

Jon Butt, physical engineer, representing Symbiont, a Milwaukee engineering firm hired by Milk Specialties, described the proposed pipeline at the Town Board’s Tuesday, June 5 meeting. In the audience was Mike Artery, plant manager at Milk Specialties.

Milk Specialties owns a wastewater treatment plant, operated by a third party. The water is currently discharged into a small stream near the plant, by permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This small stream ultimately empties into the north branch of the Milwaukee River.

The discharged water meets current DNR standards for cleanliness, but its temperature is higher than changing state standards will allow. To meet those changing standards, and to acquire a new permit from the DNR when the current one expires in June of next year, Milk Specialties would like to pipe the water approximately three miles west. It would be discharged into the north branch of the Milwaukee River, which is, Butt said, “currently, where the water eventually gets to, from where it’s going now. So we’re not introducing any new water.”

Butt said, “From a temperature standpoint, the fact that there’s more water [at the proposed new discharge site] helps with temperature compliance.”

The proposed pipeline route is along County A, then along Indian Mound Road, where the water would be discharged into the river near the bridge at the intersection of Silver Creek-Cascade Road and Indian Mound Road.

Butt said they hoped to have the project in place by roughly this time next year.

Town Chairman William Goehring noted that the bridge at that intersection would be rebuilt in the near future. Supervisor Kris Klein asked that any work done near the bridge be coordinated with the county, because “we work with Sheboygan County on getting our bridges replaced. Their engineers are the ones you’d want to deal with.”

The pipeline plan includes several elevated manholes. Klein said they would have to be plainly marked. He was concerned that grass would grow higher than the manholes, obscuring them and creating hazards to those mowing the ditch.

Klein made another point. “I’ve grown up along the Milwaukee River my whole life.” He said, with previous owners of Milk Specialties, “twice now, that I can remember, there have been thousands of dead fish floating down the river, and it was traced back to previous owners of this company.” Klein asked what was the difference between that water and the water now being discharged by Milk Specialties.

Artery said Milk Specialties had bought the plant in 2002. He confirmed that the dead fish incidents had happened prior to that. The treatment plant is operated by a third party that specializes in wastewater treatment. “We have tighter procedures now,” Artery said.

Most of the pipeline would be buried in the right of way, that strip approximately 20 feet wide on either side of the road where road signs and utility poles are placed. Butt said his company had discussed with Clerk/Treasurer Rhonda Klatt, and had received documents from Sheboygan County, regarding using the right of way on the town and county roads affected. Butt asked for help from the board in determining which land was public right of way, and which was privately owned.

The board then heard from attorneys Ed Ritger and Katie Breuer, both of the Ritger Law Office. Ritger is the town attorney and had been asked by the board to address this issue.

Ritger said he pays taxes on the county road he lives on, up to the center of the road. He said the county and the utility company have an easement on his land’s right of way. Ritger said he checked on the proposed pipeline route. Based on his research, and Breuer’s further research, it was Ritger’s impression that “pretty much everything along this route is the same as my situation.”

Ritger told Butt that “maybe you got something from the county that I didn’t get, and I’d be glad to look at that.”

Ritger said many people assume that “right of way” means the town owns that land, but “at least here in Sheboygan County, that’s usually not the case,” unless there’s a certified survey map, or a plat. He gave the Country Meadow Estates subdivision as an example.

“But to the extent that it’s just open land, which is a lot of places,” it was Ritger’s impression that the property owners paying taxes to the center of the road were the owners of the right of way.

Butt said he would share the documents he received from the county. Ritger recommended Butt consult with the county surveyor, Ed Harvey. Ritger encouraged an exchange of information, “because obviously, we don’t want to blind-side you. If this is an issue, we want to get it straightened out. And if it’s not an issue, we’d be happy to work on it.”

Breuer shared with the board research she’d done regarding possible fees and regulations on occupancy and use of public rights of way.

The board discussed with Ritger the agreement the town is entering into with Krier Foods, regarding their trucks parking on town roads to discharge wastewater in farm fields.

The town has sprayed some ditches to control wild parsnips (a plant that can cause burn-like blisters on skin if a person touches it), and other noxious weeds.

Farmer Jeff Preder asked, “Our farm is certified organic. How is that going to affect my organic certification? You’re going to be spraying on the right of way.”

Preder said he clips his own ditches to control noxious weeds, and asked if he could continue doing so.

Preder’s situation was new to the board’s experience. Goehring suggested Preder put “No Spraying” signs in his right of way where this is an issue. The board unanimously approved spraying this year, but will not spray where Preder post signs not to do so.

The town will check with the Department of Transportation and the Towns Association to see if this issue has come up elsewhere.

Preder presented another matter to the board. He plans a sesquicentennial (150 year) celebration of the farm he owns. The Jeff-Leen Farm west of Random Lake will be site of a two-day celebration Aug. 18 and 19. One highlight will be a farm-to table dinner, hosted by Wisconsin Foodie host Kyle Cherek. Preder and the board discussed aspects of the celebration.

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