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History of the Appleton Water Treatment Facilities

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Today’s State-of-the-Art Water Treatment Facility
Builds on a 120-Year Legacy, Spanning Three Centuries of
Producing Water for the City of Appleton
(October 1881 to August 2001)

Appleton began as a community of pioneers drawn to the rich water resources in the area. Water has played a significant role in developing the community since the very first settlers found their way to the Fox River Valley by canoe. Today, water continues to play a major part in many of our city’s infrastructure and resource management decisions. The state-of-the-art Appleton Water Treatment Facility, commissioned in July 2001 to provide its customers with an exceptional quality drinking water, is evidence of a 120-year commitment to sustain this valuable natural resource.

Our local “water history” begins with Congress establishing the Wisconsin Territory in 1836. Settlers soon found their way, often by water, into the area, which would become the Village of Appleton. In 1846 the first farm was established in this new village on the Fox River, near what is now Prospect Avenue. At that time the Fox River was the only “sure way” of reaching what would later become the City of Appleton.

By land, a narrow Indian trail followed the river’s path, but the village had no roads to rely on for transportation. In 1847 the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature approved a charter for Lawrence Institute which encompassed much of the land occupied by the small village’s newly established businesses. By 1848 the Wisconsin Territory was sufficiently settled to petition Congress for statehood. On May 29, 1848 Wisconsin became the 30th state in the Union.

In 1852 the Appleton Water Power Company was established to construct dams and reservoirs on the river. By 1854 the system of Fox River locks and canals were in operation and the community celebrated the first meeting of a boat from the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes in Appleton. Commerce on the Fox River and in the village rapidly grew as the energy and transportation benefits of the area’s waterways were becoming apparent.

Appleton was incorporated as a city on May 2, 1857, boasting a population of 2000, over 100 homes, and a central core of downtown merchants. By this date Lawrence Institute had already been renamed Lawrence University. Appleton’s city charter initially identified three wards, an election at-large for mayor, and the ability to assess special city taxes by popular vote for waterworks, fire engines, and other municipal improvements deemed necessary.

Today the City of Appleton has a population of over 70,000 residents who represent a diverse and thriving community. Appleton is still very much aware of its roots on the Fox River, its ties to Lake Winnebago, and its responsibilities to the world’s largest source of fresh surface water, the Great Lakes watershed basin.

In the mid-1800’s drinking water was readily obtained from the plentiful streams, rivers, and lakes as well as from glacial deposits of artesian waters in the region surrounding Appleton. But as commercial use of area waterways increased and Appleton continued to grow, sources were sought for a good quality, community water supply that would meet residential, commercial, and fire protection needs. By the late 1800’s the citizens of Appleton felt they were ready to support a water works system to address these needs.

A petition requested Appleton Common Council to order a special election to consider the formation of a City Water Works System. The city was confident that an ample supply of artesian water was available to provide the community with drinking water and fire protection.

In October 1881 the city decided to contract with Wiley Construction Company for a water works system. The Wiley Company was identified in old plant records as a group of east-coast investors with financial interests in the rapidly expanding Fox Valley area. The agreement with this private company was to provide water services to the community for 20 years. In order to do this two wells needed to be drilled and seven miles of water main needed to be constructed. At this time the city expected to use 400,000 gallons of water per day.

1st PumpStation

Construction began on the water works project and was completed in 1883. On April 21, 1883 the first water was produced. At that time the artesian wells demonstrated a flow capacity of 890,000 gallons per day. Based on consumption predictions; the city was only expected to draw 300,000 gallons per day from the water works. But when the system started up demand for this “ready” supply of water far exceeded this prediction. The water works immediately encountered pressure problems with very little water getting to upper stories of buildings and low pressure for the new hydrant system.

The Appleton Council had contracted to pay Wiley Construction Company $4,900 annually for operation and maintenance of the water works along with a rental fee for the number of hydrants on the system: $75 annually / first 80 hydrants, $70 annually / each addition of 10 hydrants.

The Council determined that the company was not living up to the water works contract and notified the Wiley Construction Company that the city would only pay half of the agreed upon hydrant rental. The company proposed to purchase and install a pump with 50% greater capacity and drill an additional artesian well to meet pressure needs and supply demand. The Council agreed to accept these remedies and honor their contract payments if Wiley Construction completed these improvements as soon as possible.

By the mid-1880’s the additional well had been on-line for some time with little improvement. Engineers began to realize that the artesian wells were all connected and the supply was not as great as first thought. The new pump was installed and put into service late in 1886. Both water supply and water pressure remained insufficient to meet the terms of the contract with the city. Records indicate that by this time Wiley Construction had formed a separate company, Appleton Water Works Company, solely responsible for meeting the water system contract commitments.

In August of 1886 Council instructed the City Attorney to begin legal actions to take possession of the water works “per terms of the contract”. The city felt Wiley Construction had clearly defaulted on its obligation to “furnish good and sufficient water”. Water was of a very poor quality and references are made at this time indicating that Fox River water was being used to supplement the artesian supply.

Efforts to improve the artesian well system without major facility expansion were abandoned. Engineers felt that a 1-2 million-gallon reservoir should be constructed near the pump house. In July Council passed a vehemently debated resolution calling for the development of an ordinance that would cancel the water works contract and give the city full control of the operation.

1919 worker1 300

A siphon intake pipeline was constructed above the Northern and Milwaukee railroad drawbridge to the water works pump house. Other efforts made by the Water Works Company during 1889 included improvements to the filter plant, line extensions, and building the previously proposed reservoir (what would become the present day Prospect Street Reservoir). The company spent an estimated $60,000 to remedy water quality and supply issues at this time.

In March the Water Works Company presented the City of Appleton with a proposal to resolve their differences and reaffirm the conditions of the contract. The Water Works Company cited their recent investments along with an offer to install up to 75 more fire hydrants at city designated sites as a valid effort to comply with the contract terms. The proposal required that ten days after the new hydrants became operational the city would pay all delinquent fees of $15,051 and abandon pending legal actions to invalidate the contract. The city agreed with these terms and the Water Works Company continued in business under private ownership as before.

The newly improved Water Works facilities used artesian water whenever possible with filtered Fox River water as a supplemental source. The pumps in use had a 900,000 gallon per day capacity and the average daily water consumption was 650,000 gallons. The city was satisfied with the water being produced and the pressure to deliver it to the community for home, industry, and fire protection.

In the spring of 1893 water quality and fire protection were again called into question by City Council. A special committee was formed to investigate whether or not the city was indeed receiving an adequate supply of “mostly artesian water”. It was believed that the Water Works Company was using far too much poorly filtered river water to meet community demand. The committee also had the fire hydrants tested under a variety of conditions and found them unable to provide the fire protection the contract with the Water Works Company clearly defined. Again, Council demanded that the company comply with the terms of the contract.

The Water Works Company encountered numerous problems with water mains beginning in 1895. At this point in time the original 7 miles of water mains was 12 years old. The Water Works Company contract was in the 14th year of its 20-year term.

In the years following 1895 the Water Works Company continued to have financial problems. Eventually court ordered receivers were appointed for the company. Herman Erb and John M. Baer were separately appointed on behalf of two different courts. One receiver was appointed by the federal court and the other was appointed by the state circuit court. The issue of who would ultimately act as the receiver for the company was settled in March 1899 by the United States Court of Appeals in Chicago. Herman Erb was designated as the receiver for the Water Works Company.

Late in the year a special committee was appointed by Council to “thoroughly investigate” the water supply and water works issues. Again, more artesian water sources were sought. Investigations lead to a complete review of sources in Appleton as well as in Hortonville. Surface water sources from the Fox River and Lake Winnebago were also considered. The committee concluded that there were only two sources of water worth developing in the area: water from deep wells into the Potsdam sandstone layer near Appleton and Lake Winnebago water.

In November of 1901 the 20-year contract with the Wiley Construction Company for the Appleton Water Works Company was due to expire. The city was certainly not pleased with the contract performance of the company under the agreement. Financial and operating issues had plagued the Water Works from the start.

The City Council proposed purchasing the Appleton Water Works and formed an arbitration committee to assess the value of the facility. Since the water issue was so politically volatile within city hall as well as among the residents of Appleton; the City Council put the issues to a vote in April 1910. The populace had the option to endorse purchasing the existing plant or building a new plant.

The vote to purchase the existing plant was 556 (yes) to 195 (no). The vote to build a new plant was 1,436 (yes) to 116 (no). With this mandate the city moved ahead with its intention to build a new water system. A building committee was formed with city officials and citizens to oversee the project.

In the meantime, the existing Appleton Water Works Company was demanding that it had a perpetual franchise right to furnish water to the city and that the city must not permit any other water works operation to infringe on those rights. As a gesture to end the legal quarrel, the city offered the Appleton Water Works Company $200,000 for its plant. This was done despite the fact that the city’s arbitration committee had assessed the plant’s value at $330,434 (approximately $100,000 of this amount was compensation for the “perpetual rights” alleged by the company). The company countered this offer asking for $315,000 to sell the plant or drop their dispute if the city agreed to grant them a new contract for 24 years with more hydrants and increased annual rental fees.

1919 main2 300

The dispute was not resolved between the city and the Appleton Water Works Company. By November the company claimed that the city, by default, had renewed their contract to provide water for another 20 years. The city ignored this claim and proceeded with plans for the new city water works. By December an option to purchase three acres on the city’s south side had been secured and plans were in place to advertise for bids in early 1902.

Engineers from the firm of Sturtevant & Todd prepared a construction plan that was expected to cost $319,528.70 for a new water works system. Preliminary work also included having another engineering study done to determine the amount of water available from well sources. Council went ahead with plans to issue $280,000 in bonds and to levy a tax to meet the bond redemption schedule. The Appleton Water Works Company immediately sued the city to halt sale of the bonds.

By this time the water project had divided the citizens of the city. Many felt that the city should try to work out its differences with the existing company and abandon the plan to construct a new water works. The Appleton Water Works Company also sued the city for delinquent hydrant rental payments of $6,115 while the city sued the company for unpaid taxes totaling $3,847.61. These claims were settled by the city paying the difference between the two sums to the company in June.

Legal arguments brought a halt to the city’s plans to construct a new water works facility. It was becoming apparent that the citizens of Appleton did want a city controlled water system; but that they also felt the Appleton Water Works Company should be dealt with fairly. At the time the Appleton Water Works Company owed a mortgage and operating debt of $285,000. The city prepared to once again bring the water issue to the voters by requesting endorsement for the $280,000 bond issue.

1915 Plan3

Just prior to this vote the company approached the city with an offer to sell the water works for much less than the $315,000 they had originally asked for. The city rescinded its call for a vote on the bond issue and began negotiations with the Appleton Water Works Company. Again the Council offered to buy the water works at a price established by a committee of impartial arbitrators and voted down the ordinance that had called for the bond issue. At this point the company attempted to leverage its claim to a perpetual franchise to force the city to pay a premium for the facilities. Once again, purchase negotiations broke down completely.

With the water works question for the City of Appleton now mired in legal, political, and public debate; Common Council turned to the voters for guidance. In March 1902 a special election was held asking the community if they favored municipal or private ownership of the city’s water supply. 1,868 voters wanted municipal ownership while 44 wanted private ownership. Despite this clear mandate, again the issue was not resolved for a number of years. No agreement could be reached on the sale of the Water Works Company, status of the contract and the perpetual rights issue, or the rights of the city to issue bonds to establish what the company viewed as an illegal competitor. Appleton continued to withhold payment on hydrant rental and court orders flew back and forth between the parties.

By this time public sentiment was becoming “numbed” to the constant court battles surrounding the water works issue. An election held in December put the question of purchasing the Appleton Water Works Company to a vote. The outcome was lower voter participation than the previous elections on the topic and, worst of all, a tie vote at 646 for and against the purchase. The public mandate no longer existed after the years of bitter fighting over the city’s water supply. By the end of 1902 the question of rates set for the hydrant rental were called into question and the state Railroad Commission became involved in issues between the city and the Appleton Water Works Company.

The Railroad Commission had been granted power by the state legislature “to fix, within reasonable limits, the rate of compensation which local public service corporations of all kinds should receive for service rendered; to require efficient service; to determine the value of such plants in cases where municipalities desired to acquire ownership of them; its decisions being subject to review by the courts”. The Water Works saw the Railroad Commission’s intervention as an opportunity to remedy the lapsed contract situation with the city.

The Water Works abandoned their “perpetual rights” claim to supply water to Appleton and instead asked the Commission for a permit to do business that only the Commission could cancel. They received an “indeterminate permit” and began the process of setting rates for their future services. At the same time the city made the Railroad Commission aware that they wanted to purchase the Water Works Company at the “fair” price set under the Commission’s control.
The city again went to the voters to decide if purchasing the Appleton Water Works Company at the value assessed by the state Railroad Commission was an acceptable course of action. This time the populace voted 1,207 in favor and 70 in opposition to the purchase.

It was not until December 8, 1910 that the Railroad Commission filed a decision under the Public Utility Law assigning a total value for the Appleton Water Works at $255,000. The physical assets were assessed at $243,600. The Water Works Company was given three months to complete the sale to the city. On December 16, 1910 the City Council voted unanimously to accept the Railroad Commission’s decision and assume ownership of the company for the set price.

In February the Appleton Water Works Company filed a petition in federal circuit court to block the sale. The Water Works claimed that the Railroad Commission had no right to order the sale without the company agreeing to the price. They also contended that the Commission had no jurisdiction to assess the value of the company, and that the value assessed was far too low for the assets and goodwill that the company represented.

The federal judge ruled, ordering an injunction on the sale of the Water Works. The city contended that the issue had no place in federal court and that the Appleton Water Works Company had until March 8, 1911 to appeal to the State Supreme Court in Dane County. The Water Works Company filed a suit in Dane County on March 9, 1911. The city felt the company had missed the legal deadline for appeal and asked the Railroad Commission to fulfill the terms of the sale.

In the event that the court decisions went against the city, the Council voted to petition the Railroad Commission to allow the construction of a city water facility unless an agreement could be reached with the existing Water Works.

1800 OldPlant300 

In July the Appleton Water Works Company offered to sell and end the legal battle for $285,000 without the hydrants or $315,000 with hydrants included in the sale. The federal court decision was rendered on December 1, 1911. The Wisconsin Railroad Commission appraisal of $255,000 was deemed fair and the city was given ownership of the Water Works for the first time. The city took possession of the facilities and established a Water Commission with three appointed commissioners.

The Appleton Water Works were in a poor state of repairs after all the years of financial and legal squabbles between the original owners and the city. At the time of sale the assets were: 

• A Corliss 100 horse-power steam engine
• duplex pumps, each with a two million gallon per day capacity
• 160,800 feet of water mains ranging from 1-16 inches in diameter
• 152 valves
• 250 hydrants
• pump station building, wells, a reservoir, tool shed and all of the land associated with the structures

Postcard Walnut 

Water was pumped directly from the wells into the mains with great variability in supply and pressure. The service did not meet residential or fire protection needs. The water also exhibited a great deal of contamination from sewage bacteria (40,000 bacteria per cubic centimeter) which was totally unacceptable for a drinking water supply. In response to these conditions City Council authorized a bond issue to begin construction of a new filtration plant and pumping station. A second bond issue was made to erect a 500,000 gallon elevated tank

By April 1914 the city had issued $375,000 in bonds and had built a new filtration plant, pumping station and water tower. Water was no longer coming from wells. The new plant treated, filtered and pumped water from the Fox River. The plant was built on the Fox River almost directly across from the original Water Works Pump Station. The plant used (4) one million gallon patented Jewell high rate filter units and had a total pumping capacity of 8 million gallons per day.

The design also included a number of unique features for the time period:

► Made use of (2) 225 horse-power diesel engines for power rather than steam generation. This allowed operators to “shut the plant down” completely after reservoir and tower capacities were filled. The diesel engines also turned (2) 15-kilowatt generators to supply all the lighting needs for the water plant.

► New design for a sedimentation basin included use of conventional “skimming” (the clear, top portion of water is drawn off) and a unique series of baffles to improve water distribution and detention efficiencies throughout the structure.

► Use of pressure gauges linked to valves that compensated for pressure losses when filters began to plug. The gauges automatically controlled filtration rates and also semi-automated the filters’ wash cycles; which are so critical to maintaining water quality. The old reservoir above the plant (on Prospect Avenue) was refurbished and covered to provide 2.5 million gallon capacity for high pressure filter washing, fire protection, and added supply volume.

► Each day the plant shut down from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. This meant there was no additional need for electricity when the diesel engines were off-line. It also reduced the entire energy and operating costs for the facility. Both the 2.5 million gallon reservoir and the 0.5 million gallon Walnut Street water tower were filled prior to shut down.

In 1915 Appleton had a population of 18,000; using an average of 2.25 million gallons of water per day. It cost the city $17.38 a day to operate and maintain the new plant or a cost of $8.63 per million gallons of water produced. The original water works had operated at $34.94 a day with water produced at a cost of $18.90 per million gallons.

1919 worker3 300

By 1917 the Appleton Water Commission published its “Rules and Regulations” authorized by the Wisconsin Railroad Commission to adopt rates for the Water Utility. The Commission’s 1927 report stated that the water distribution system had been increased to include 50.5 miles of mains over the years since the city bought the original Water Works Company in 1911. Water pressure averaged 55 pounds for domestic use and 85 to 100 pounds for fire service. All water use was metered and there was a systematic program in place to test meters and flush hydrants.

The Water Street Filtration Plant, constructed in 1914, remained in continuous operation with periodic upgrades until it was replaced with the 2001 treatment plant construction at a site located near the Lake Winnebago raw water intake pumping station.

. . . further improvements to the 1914 Water Street Filtration Plant:

A 2 million gallon Hayton high lift pump and a 4 million gallon Hayton low lift pump were added to the Pumping Station.

Two filters were added, bringing the plant’s capacity to 10 million gallons in twenty-four hours.

An 80-foot diameter by 18-foot deep settling basin was constructed to extend raw water settling time. Chemical addition and mixing equipment was later added to this basin to again increase treatment capacity of the plant.
A 4 million gallon DeLaval high lift pump with both electric and gasoline engine drive was added to the Pumping Station.

1915 centerfold b&w

Two more filters were added to the plant along with the equipment to feed carbon. A chlorine delivery system was also constructed at this time. The population of Appleton was now 25,000; there were now 76 miles of water mains, 610 hydrants, 895 valves, and the average daily water consumption was 1.8 million gallons.

1932 FilterGallery1

A new office and shop building were constructed at the site of the North Walnut Street Tower. The last payment on the 1911 original bond issue was retired on March 1, 1934.

The Appleton Water Commission published its new “Rates, Rules and Regulations” booklet under the authority of the Public Service Commission. The city’s investment in the Water Works property and plant was $1,042,639.83 on a total valuation of $1,757,258.26.

In the City of Appleton there were now 84.7 miles of water mains, 689 fire hydrants, and over 1,000 valves in the distribution system ranging from 2-inch to 18-inch. The Water Commission also made provisions at this time for “Consumers Outside of City” where water service had been extended to residential or commercial premises outside of the municipality.

1932 Laboratory

A one million gallon clear well was constructed to provide additional underground filtered water storage. A new basin was also built to give the plant the ability to soften water. A second softening basin was later added to meet increased demand. A 4 million gallon Goulds high lift pump was also added to the Pumping Station.

A second water tower was added, the Oneida Street Tower with 0.5 million gallon storage capacity.

The Water Plant underwent extensive expansion with the addition of two new 5-million gallon filters, another softening basin, and new chemical feed equipment. The Pumping Station added two more Goulds high lift pumps and two Aurora low lift pumps. And the size of the Walnut Street office and shop were doubled.

1935 Office

The Lindbergh Street Tower was constructed to add 2 million gallons of storage capacity to the water distribution system for the city. Construction of significant Water Plant upgrades started by building Lake Winnebago intake structures 1,200 feet from the north shore, an automated pumping station, and 3-miles of 42-inch raw water line to deliver lake water to the plant for further treatment. The new lake pumping station had a total capacity to deliver 31 million gallons per day. The Water Plant added 10 million gallon per day filtering capacity to bring the total output of the filtration system up to 23 million gallons per day. A carbon contact basin was also added to the plant along with a 1 million gallon underground reservoir.

1950 WaterPlant

By the time these improvements were completed the Water Commission was already planning to construct sludge lagoons to handle lime-softening wastes from the treatment process that were no longer acceptable for direct discharge to the Fox River. Water quality issues mandated an alternative plan to handle these discharges to the river from the plant.
Three earth-rimmed lagoons were built to handle these wastes along with 2.5 miles of force main to deliver the lime softening discharges from the Water Plant. The lagoons were in service until 1996 when the Water Plant’s wastes were discharged to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The lagoons were completely abandoned during the construction of the new 2001 Water Plant.

The Water Plant’s sand filter media was changed to include granular activated charcoal. This provided additional treatment for organic compounds that caused taste and odor problems, especially in the warm weather months.

Ridgeway Street Tower was constructed with a capacity of 0.3 million gallons.

Matthias Street Tower was constructed with a capacity of 1 million gallons.

During the next decade the Appleton Water Plant continued to find ways to efficiently treat and supply the city with adequate potable water. In the mid-1990’s it was becoming quite clear that the existing facilities, many of which dated back to the original 1914 construction era, were not going to meet either community demand for water supply or future water quality standards proposed by regulatory agencies.
The city made the decision in 1997 to build a new, state-of-the-art facility, which would use the latest filtration techniques and advanced membrane technologies to provide superior water quality to Appleton’s customers.

. . .a new era in Appleton’s Water History:

Construction of the new Water Treatment Plant at the Manitowoc Road location was completed in July 2001. The following is an article that appeared in the American Water Works Association – Wisconsin Section News, Summer 2001 issue shortly after the new plant opened:

Appleton’s New Surface Water Treatment Plant Addresses
Safe Drinking Water Act Requirements and Long Term Supply Needs


(article written by: Gary L. Rosenbeck, PE, McMahon Associates and Chris Shaw, Appleton Department of Utilities)

The City of Appleton Department of Utilities operates a treatment plant to provide potable water to its 70,000 residents as well as 15,000 residents in the Town of Grand Chute. Appleton’s existing filtration plant [in this article “existing plant” is a reference to the Water Street Plant] utilizes traditional treatment that was not originally designed to soften water and filter water to a turbidity standard below 1 NTU [the water quality test for turbidity yields results in this type of “unit”]. The existing plant has the following water treatment processes:
• excess lime softening
• re-carbonation
• sedimentation
• traditional filtration
• fluoridation
• disinfection

The City obtains its water supply from Lake Winnebago. The Fox and Wolf rivers, representing a drainage area of 5,310 square miles, discharge into Lake Winnebago. The lake is 262 square miles in size and averages 18.5 feet in depth. There are significant point and non-point discharges into the lake and its watershed, making the lake biologically productive and prone to providing taste and odor causing organics.

wf softener II

The plant, because of its age and location, was experiencing a number of problems. The plant, which had multiple upgrades since its original construction in 1912, would exceed proposed treated water turbidity standards when attempting to meet its hydraulic design flow of 18 million gallons per day. Expansion of the plant on the existing site was complicated, due to contaminated soils from a former industrial site user.
Faced with these constraints and the objective to meet more stringent water quality standards from an already challenging water supply, the City’s Common Council approved the decision to construct a new water treatment facility. While the existing Filtration Plant is located in the City’s central area along the Fox River, the new 24 million gallon per day Water Treatment Facility would be located close to Lake Winnebago, and actually be outside the City’s corporate limits.

“We are one step ahead of the upcoming enhanced water regulations, which will be mandated over the next 6 years starting in January 2002,” Director of Utilities, Duane Leaf stated. “Our program, to date, is simply the City of Appleton’s way of proactively meeting and exceeding these new standards to give our citizens a better water supply sooner.”

A preliminary design study was completed by Carollo Engineers of Boise, Idaho. Decisions on which processes to utilize were based upon process performance criteria being able to address the following parameters:

• High level of water quality
• Consistent water quality
• Minimize taste and odor
• Maintain bio-stability of water
• Increase O&M [Operation & Maintenance] safety
• Minimize by-product formation
• Meet future water quality standards
• Maximize the operational efficiency
• Ability for future expansion


The preliminary evaluation, which focused on addressing these issues, concluded that the treatment process required to meet the future proposed standards and meet Water Utility objectives should consist of the following processes:

• A two stage pretreatment process using potassium permanganate followed by powdered activated carbon.
• Excess lime softening, operating at a pH of 11.1 to 11.3 followed by recarbonation.
• Deep bed granular activated carbon contactors to provide 15-minutes of empty bed contact time.
• Ultra-filtration membranes to minimize the use of chlorine for disinfection and for turbidity removal.
• Chlorination with free chlorine to provide a 1-log inactivation of viruses.
• Five million gallons of treated water in storage capacity.

 wf membranes V

The use of an ultra-filtration membrane process had not been utilized after a lime softening process on high Total Organic Carbon (TOC) water [TOC is a measure of the organic material present in water]. It was for this reason that a decision was made to pilot test prior to making any final decisions on the processes or equipment. A total of four membrane systems were pilot tested during the period of May 20 through August 1, 1998. Criteria evaluated included flux rate, backwash frequency, chemical cleaning frequency and membrane fouling. The system supplied by Koch Membrane Systems best met the selection criteria.

The Project Design Team was made up of McMahon Associates, Carollo Engineers, Boldt Construction (acting as Construction Manager), and the City’s self-directed work team that consisted of the entire Water Treatment Plant’s staff. The project Design Team was involved in the 12 pre-design and 50 design workshop sessions. The workshops aided in the development of the treatment process, plant layout, equipment selection and design details. Direct purchase of major equipment items by the City aided the process, as well.

The Construction Manager, Boldt Construction, bid the individual project elements. A total of 50 bid packages were developed and released over a 28-month period. The packages represented all of the equipment, materials and labor to be furnished for the entire project. Each bid package was publicly bid in accordance with State Statutes and awarded by the City’s Common Council. The first construction bid package was released in January 1999, with construction starting in March of 1999.

The Plant construction budget of $54.3 million was established by the Appleton Common Council when the project was approved in 1998. The project design and project elements were modified through the development of the project to ensure the project remained within budget.

wf gen set II

Project start up was initiated in May 2001 with the plant to be fully operational, and accepted the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by this summer. After the plant is fully operational, the existing plant will be shut down and abandoned. The existing raw water supply transmission main from the Lake Winnebago Pumping Station will be converted to a treated water transmission main and connected to the new plant and existing water system.

Appleton’s new 2001 Water Treatment Facility incorporates the following technologies and some unique design concepts:

♦ Excess lime softening or enhanced softening at an elevated pH. This process removes approximately 60% of the TOC [organic material] from the raw water. The softening process utilizes Infilco Degremont’s Accelerator IS solids contact clarifier, which meet water quality objectives under a process guarantee.

♦ 8-foot deep bed Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) contactors with the capability of a simultaneous combined air/water backwash using systems provided by U.S. Filter:
• Taste and odor control
• Reduction of TOC
• Environment for microlife to further reduce organics
• Turbidity removal and control

♦ This is the first, and largest, installation of an ultra low-pressure filtration membrane using a lime softened effluent. The ultra filtration system consists of 11 membrane stages, each stage containing 50-modules, with each module containing 10,000-lumens [lumens look like very thin polymer film “straws”, in this sort of system water enters the lumen as if you were filling a pipe, then the pores in the lumen wall allow water molecules to pass through, while trapping particles inside the “straw”]. A lumen measures 0.035-inches in diameter by 72-inches in length. The lumens have a pore cut-off size of 0.01-microns. The rated capacity of the membrane system is temperature dependent. [Each lumen can process about 5 gallons of water per day at 20°C.] At 20°C, the rate is nearly 29 million gallons per day with 109-gallons per square foot per day flux. At 1°C, the rate is about 21 million gallons per day with an 80-gallons per square foot per day flux. Membrane integrity testing is able to identify a single broken lumen in 500,000.


♦ The facility design provides for the process components to be accessible on a single floor elevation. This facilitates Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility, security and weather protection concerns. The Plant’s first floor process area is in excess of 105,000 square feet, while structural components below the first floor required 28,000 cubic yards of concrete and over a million pounds of rebar [steel reinforcement structures].

♦ The process piping system is of stainless steel to facilitate fabrication and to eliminate corrosion and the need for maintenance painting.

♦ Operator efficiency is increased with the facility layout, which centrally locates the laboratory, control room and SCADA [system control and data acquisition] computer. The operator can also interface with the SCADA system through eight touch-screen panels located throughout the plant.