Kevin Westhuis (Utility Director) and Ron Growth (Water/Wastewater Superintendent) are proud of the work that Ron and his team do to take care of our water and wasterwater systems. Water and wastewater operators are required to be certified (and recertified) by the State of Wisconsin; this is important and serious business!
Kevin noted that River Falls Municipal Utility (RFMU) delivers safe, fresh, cold drinking water to our homes for about $2/1000 gallons.
The water department was founded in 1894 and currently serves about 5700 customers. Water in River Falls comes from three different aquifers and six different wells. The city has five “line shaft water wells” located throughout the city, two west of the Kinni and three east of the Kinni. Water is stored in Sycamore Tower, built in 1959, and Golf View Tower, built in 1991.

About 69.52 miles of public water mains run through the city, with another 8.82 miles of private water mains. Chlorine, fluoride and poly phosphate are all added to the water system continuously. The poly phosphate helps to control oxidation of naturally occurring elements that would otherwise discolor the water. Water is tested daily for chlorine and fluoride levels; weekly for phosphate and bacteria levels; and every three years for other elements. RFMU provides a yearly consumer confidence reports to all consumers.

Wastewater management is more intensive and consumes more energy. The collection system relies on pipes and lift stations, which pump flow from areas not served by gravity; we have about 70 miles of pipe and five lift stations. Primary and secondary treatment occurs at the wastewater treatment plant. Primary treatment includes
screening to remove plastics, rags and materials that won’t break down; they recently removed a steel-toed boot! (Kevin asked that we not flush anything but toilet paper down our toilets; even “flushable” wipes create problems.)

Secondary treatment uses oxidation ditches to remove organic material and ammonia; clarification to separate solids from clear water; and removal of biological phosphorus, which has been a strong emphasis since the late 19902. Bio solids are then thickened and distributed to area farms. Thickening reduces sludge to reduce hauling costs; a facility in Ellsworth produces a “Class A” product that can be applied for crop production.

Water coming into the waste treatment plant is less than 1% solids; that 1% is extracted, but the rest is liquid that must be disinfected, including removal of pathogens and addition of sulfur dioxide to remove chlorine residual, before returning it to the river. On average, we return 1.3 million gallons of treated wastewater to the Kinni each
day. This is only about 10% of the maximum level set by the DNR for our community.

Our state-certified laboratory runs more than 2000 tests each year. Tests are run for bio-chemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, phosphorus, ammonia, pH, dissolved oxygen and process control.
 
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