Construction on Janesville's anaerobic wastewater pretreatment lagoon is underway

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Andrea Anderson
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

JANESVILLE—Work into the city's anaerobic wastewater pretreatment lagoon is on track for an October opening, said Dave Botts, Janesville utility director.

Contractors broke ground at the Conde Street facility in end of June and are working on installing pipe, digging ponds and pouring foundations for two small equipment buildings.

In June 2013, the Janesville City Council agreed to build the $3.3 million facility to be used by Seneca Foods to cut the food processing company's wastewater costs.

The pretreatment facility is located on a little less than two acres across the street from the plant, 418 E. Conde St, Botts said.

Seneca Foods will discharge its sewer waste into the lagoon, where the solids will settle, ferment and create methane gas. That methane will be piped back to Seneca to blend with natural gas for use in its boilers, Botts said.

The city will sell the methane to Seneca.

The city borrowed $3.15 million, and state tax credits, loans and grants covered the rest.

In about 12 years, the multimillion dollar project will be paid off with the money the city earns from extra wastewater revenue and methane gas sales. Anything after that “is all that is just revenue for us,” Botts said.

Seneca uses its wastewater to irrigate farm fields surrounding its plant. During the winter, the wastewater goes to the city's treatment facility.

The new pretreatment facility goes hand-in-hand with Seneca's 80,000-square-foot addition that will house up to five production lines to package vegetables in pouches rather than cans.

According to Gazette archives:

One line produces 250,000 to 300,00 gallons of wastewater a day.

Seneca's monthly wastewater costs were estimated at $24,000 to $60,000 for adding a single line and $70,000 to $118,000 for adding five lines. The lagoon would cut those costs by about 60 percent.

Any future facilities similar to Seneca's could connect to the lagoon, too, Botts said.

On top of the city building the $3.3 million facility, the city gave the company $303,000 in tax incremental financing for Seneca's promise of creating an additional 25 jobs for one production line or 78 jobs if all five lines are built.

The city also received a $358,967 grant from Focus on Energy for the pretreatment facility in December.  

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