The Power of Community

USDA Celebrates City of Waupun Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Groundbreaking

WAUPUN, Wis., May 6, 2021 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wisconsin Rural Development representatives joined Waupun Utilities, Miron Construction, Applied Technologies, Inc. and CLEARAS Water Recovery at a groundbreaking today to celebrate the start of construction on the upgrade of their wastewater treatment plant.

“Modern infrastructure is the cornerstone to ensuring prosperity in rural communities,” Acting State Director Michelle Wallace said. “This innovative project in the city of Waupun is a great example of how state-of-the-art technology can address water and wastewater treatment concerns in smaller communities.”

In Dodge County, Wis., the City of Waupun will use $28 million in direct, low-interest loans and $8 million in grant funding to upgrade their plant to meet strict nutrient reduction requirements for their wastewater discharge permit. As part of a statewide effort to protect public health and watersheds, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) recently reduced the phosphorus discharge limits at Waupun by more than 95%.

Waupun Utilities will meet the new limits via the algae-based Advanced Biological Nutrient Recovery (ABNR) system from CLEARAS Water Recovery. The ABNR system uses algae to remove phosphorus from the wastewater and recover the phosphorus in a marketable algae co-product. This dried algae product will be sold as an industrial feedstock to offset some ABNR system expenses, with an initial customer planning to produce insoles from the dried algae.

Applied Technologies, Inc. worked with Waupun Utilities to evaluate many compliance alternatives for technical and financial feasibility. Only a few alternatives were determined to be feasible, resulting from Waupun’s ultra-low limits, its location in the Rock River watershed, and its wastewater’s high levels of soluble non-reactive phosphorus. Waupun Utilities selected the ABNR system based on its favorable life cycle costs and ability to meet the ultra-low limits.

A pilot ABNR system began in April 2019 and treated roughly 10,000 gallons per day. The goals of the pilot were met and now Waupun Utilities is on track to open a fully operational system in 2023 designed to meet an average flow of more than two million gallons per day. The full-scale ABNR system is expected to produce approximately two tons of algae per day, which will be dried and marketed to several different industries. The sale of this co-product could generate annual biomass revenue in excess of $500,000 that can be applied to the debt service and operational expenses of the project.

USDA is funding this project through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. This program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal and storm water drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit, call us at 715-345-7600 or email

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. 

News Release

Contact: Jessica Mancel (715) 701-2741

Groundbreaking Event