The Green Bay
Metropolitan Sewerage District was formed December 4, 1931,
with the first treatment plant beginning operation early in 1935.
The condition of the river water was bad enough that, even in the
1930s Depression people were concerned enough to raise the $1.8
million needed to construct the plant.
The first facility, with a capacity of 10 million gallons per
day (MGD), included two primary clarifiers and chlorination for
treatment of the wastewater. Treatment at that time averaged 2.5
This was better than no treatment at all, but it soon became
evident that it also wasn't enough.
Area growth and a desire for improved water conditions led to
several plant expansions from 1935 through the 1950s.
In 1955, a secondary treatment system, using tricking filters,
was installed to biologically treat the water and remove wastes
more extensively. The design capacity of the plant at this time was
22 MGD, though treatment averaged about half that initially.
Also, during the middle 1950s, work began on the separation of
storm and sanitary sewers. That way, storm water wouldn't be
filling up the system, and treatment could focus on the more
In the early 1970s, federal clean water regulations mandated
tougher water quality guidelines.
GBMSD, in anticipation of stricter regulations, began in the
late 1960s by conducting intense research on the feasibility of
treating domestic sewage and pulp mill discharge.
This effort culminated in a $72 million expansion project, which
utilized activated sludge in its secondary treatment process. Not
only was this process more effective at removing waste from the
water, but also allowed GBMSD to be the first plant in the nation
to simultaneously treat municipal and pulp mill wastewater, setting
a precedent in the fight against water pollution.
With the planning stages beginning as early as 1963, the plant
was completed in 1975 and had a capacity of 52 MGD.
Based upon more stringent effluent standards, GBMSD's 1990s
expansion took another large stride toward cleaner water. With the
addition of two aeration basins, two clarifiers and an improved
solids handling system, the plant greatly improved its ammonia
Additional facilities provided for dechlorination of the
effluent (treated water leaving the plant).
The capacity of the plant dropped just a bit to 49 MGD. Even
though additional basins were added to the facility, the process
was changed and treatment required a greater detention time. This
greater detention time allows for more efficient removal.
Allowances were made in the design to facilitate future
expansions as growth and regulations demand.
On January 1, 2008, GBMSD acquired the De Pere Wastewater Treatment Plant,
major interceptors, and annexed the City of De Pere as a municipal
customer. The De Pere Facility effectively treats 9 MGD. The De
Pere and Green Bay Facilities underwent major construction and are
linked by interplant pipelines so staff can better manage solids,
optimize wastewater flow conditions, and operate the De Pere
Facility remotely through fiber optics. The solids generated at the
De Pere Facility are piped to the Green Bay Facility for processing.
The incinerator at the De Pere Facility is no longer in
GBMSD is facing stricter environmental standards, aging
infrastructure, and solids waste capacity issues. To combat these
issues, GBMSD developed a Solids Management Plan.
On December 4, 2011, GBMSD celebrated 80 Years of Service.
GBMSD and consultants developed a solids management plan for the
future. It is a Resource Recovery and Electrical Energy
Generation System, or also known as the R2E2 Project.
The project involves
building two anaerobic digesters, which break down biodegradable
material in the absence of oxygen, and reduces the volume of
material to be processed. In addition, the digesters will
produce a methane gas, which will be captured and processed into a
biofuel, used to produce electricity.
GBMSD will also recover the heat from a new incinerator, which
will replace its two existing 35-year-old incinerators. Through
thermal processing, the heat from the system will be recovered and
used for building heat or electricity production.
The new equipment will be more efficient, effective, and meet
new, stricter environmental air permit standards.
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