Pretreatment

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Appleton has had a federally approved Pretreatment Program since October 5, 1984 when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) granted the city authority to implement a program. This program, which is one of 26 Pretreatment Programs delegated by the WDNR, currently has 10 diverse industries that fall under its guidance. The Clean Water Act, enacted by the federal government in 1972, developed the criteria for making a determination as to which dischargers must pretreat their wastewater. The need for industrial pretreatment is based on the fact that most municipal wastewater treatment plants are primarily designed to handle domestic (household) wastewater. Therefore, pretreatment regulations have been developed as a means to make industrial wastewater compatible with the treatment works.

After determining the type of industry and the unique character of its wastewater, limits are established for that industry’s discharge to the municipal treatment plant. These limits are formalized in the city of Appleton’s sewer use ordinance, and industries are issued permits detailing specific limits. In order to discharge within the limits of the permit, an industry may have to pretreat its discharge before it leaves the production facility and enters the municipal sewer system. Currently, the industrial dischargers represent approximately 10% (over 500 million gallons) of the total annual flow that enters the sewer system leading to the wastewater treatment plant.

The city of Appleton’s Pretreatment Program and the industrial dischargers work together to ensure that the wastewater generated by industry neither harms the treatment plant nor the environment. Monitoring of this program requires the full analytical support services of the wastewater treatment plant’s laboratory and its staff. Monitoring activities generate vital information necessary to evaluate industrial compliance with discharge limits. This information is essential in projecting the potential impact to the treatment plant and the environment in the event of a failure in a pretreatment system which could cause an accidental discharge. Both treatment plant staff and industry specialists communicate and share strategies to handle such situations. In all cases, this mandate is maintained to ensure a safe and healthy environment which benefits the community now and in the future.