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Public Education


The Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility offers tours of its wastewater treatment facility by appointment. Hundreds of people tour our facility annually to find out what happens “after you flush”. The polluted wastewater that enters the plant is cleaned and returned to Lake Winnebago cleaner than the lake water itself.

Visitors will see the various ways pollutants are removed from wastewater, replicating nature’s own processes, but in a much-condensed time frame. They will also see how wastewater solids are processed so that they can be beneficially re-used, and how energy is recovered along the way to power the Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment & Resouce Recovery Facility.

The safety and security of our visitors and our employees is of utmost concern. All visitors are expected to abide by our safety instructions and policies.

Group tours, suitable for adults and students in grades 6 and above are available. For students below grade 6, our Plant Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent would be happy to visit your school and give an age appropriate presentation on our facility and the wastewater process. (See School Presentations below for more information on this)

To schedule a tour, contact Ben Proposon (920-322-3664) or e-mail at bpropson@fdl.wi.gov.  Please provide the following information:

  • Company or organization name and phone number
  • Contact name and phone number
  • Mailing and e-mail address
  • Requested date and time of tour
  • Number of visitors and teachers/chaperones

Scheduling your tour at least 2 to 3 weeks in advance is recommended.

Tours are free and can be tailored to school groups, civic groups or professional organizations. We can accommodate up to 30 people in a tour. Tour guides are the employees who operate and manage the plant. They provide a thorough, step-by-step explanation of wastewater treatment.

Tours are offered Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tours last approximately 1½ hours and include considerable walking and stair climbing.  Visitors will spend about half of their time indoors and half outdoors, so appropriate dress for the weather is recommended. 

Wear closed-toe shoes; no heels; no flip-flops or sandals. You will be touring an industrial site. Dress for the weather; the majority of the tour is outside. No smoking, eating, or drinking during the tour. This site has biological hazards.  Restrooms will be available at the beginning and end of the tour only.


The Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility can arrange to have a speaker come to your organization’s meeting, neighborhood group or classroom to talk about wastewater treatment. We are glad to be in the community and look forward to discussing a range of topics that are of concern or interest to your group.

We have experts with extensive experience and education who can provide useful and interesting information on a variety of topics such as the wastewater treatment process, environmental programs, or water quality. If you have a specific topic that you would like addressed please make sure to ask about it. We’re open to developing a presentation tailored to your group’s specific interest.

The presentation can be customized to meet your group’s informational needs, areas of interest and time limitations.

To schedule a presentation please contact Utility Superintendent Cody Schoepke at 920-322-3662 or e-mail at cschoepke@fdl.wi.gov 

Please provide the following information:

Contact name and phone number
Company or organization name and phone number
Mailing and e-mail address
Requested date and time of presentation
Number of attendees


An informational brochure on the Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility is available in our office. The brochure can be picked up anytime Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This brochure was developed to share information on our treatment facility and provides a brief summary of the wastewater treatment process. The brochure contains the history of the City’s wastewater treatment plant; various water treatment processes and photographs of the plant.


Although wastewater treatment seems like an enormous and technical process, residents in the City of Fond du Lac can help maintain a healthy environment. Here are some of the things that everyone can do:

Keep hazardous substances out of the sewer system: Reduce the use of hazardous household products. Never pour hazardous materials down a sink or toilet or dump them into storm drains. Save hazardous wastes for a household waste collection day or drop them off at the Municipal Service Center, located at 530 Doty Street. And remember, it’s against the law to dump used motor oil down a storm drain.


The City of Fond du Lac is committed to protecting our natural resources.

One of the main causes of backups from the sanitary sewer system is due to clogs in the sewer piping system from cooking oil and grease. This material solidifies in the sewer lines and restricts flow, sometimes completely. 

Oil and grease enters our collection system most commonly through users pouring used oil down a drain or during the cleaning operations at food service facilities. This not only clogs our sewer lines but can cause sewer to backup into your fixtures and facilities as well. 

The discharge of fats, oils, and greases to the sanitary sewer system is an important environmental and public health issue.  Grease builds up in sewer lines and restricts the capacity of the pipes. Attempts to keep the sewer collection system flowing is a very costly and time consuming effort. Eventually, the pipes can become blocked completely, leading to overflows of raw sewage into streets, storm drains, and our creeks.

The easiest way to solve the grease problem and help prevent overflows of raw sewage is to keep this material out of the sewer system in the first place. There are several ways to do this.Dispose of grease properly: Don’t throw used cooking oil down a sink or toilet. As grease accumulates in the sewer system it can cause blockages. Every time you cook, place the left-over oil in a non-recyclable, plastic container. Cover and store the container in the refrigerator and then throw it out with your regular trash.

Never pour grease down sink drains or into toilets.

Scrape grease and food scraps from trays, plates, pots, pans, utensils, and grills and cooking surfaces into a can or the trash for disposal (or recycling where available).

Do not put grease down garbage disposals. Put baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids, and empty the drain baskets/strainers into the trash for disposal.


Managing unused medications is a safety as well as an environmental concern. Traditionally, we were told to flush unwanted medications down the drain or toilet rather than keeping them around so they would not be misused by the patient for the wrong symptoms or by someone else who was not prescribed the medication and who might use the drugs recreationally. Although effective in removing the medication from potentially being misused, flushing creates a new and growing problem in the environment. Antibiotics and other medications in a septic system can destroy beneficial bacteria necessary for the system to operate.

Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove or process many compounds found in medications that end up being discharged into our surface and ground water. A study by the United States Geological Survey done in 1999 showed that in 80% of the streams sampled contained detectable levels of compounds found in common medications. National attention is growing to develop more appropriate methods of safely disposing of old unwanted medications. 

Federal Guidelines for the Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs
Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so. For information on drugs that should be flushed visit the FDA’s website.

To dispose of prescription drugs not labeled to be flushed, you may be able to take advantage of community drug take-back programs or other programs, such as household hazardous waste collection events that collect drugs at a central location for proper disposal.

If a drug-take back or collection program is not available:
Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.

Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.

Put this mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.

Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape or by scratching it off.

Place the sealed contained with the mixture and the empty drug containers in the trash.


The purpose of this web page is to serve as an outreach into the Fond du Lac community as an attempt to better inform the public of activities that can reduce mercury releases into the environment. Mercury reduction is considered a priority in the Great Lakes Region, and therefore the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has required that the City prepare a Mercury Minimization Plan specific to Fond du Lac. Please feel free to contact Jim Kaiser at 322-3665 or jkaiser@fdl.wi.gov with feedback regarding this web page.

The City of Fond du Lac will be planning outreach opportunities as part of this program. The specific types and numbers of outreaches will develop as the program develops and as the City collects feedback from interested members of the public. Please contact Jim Kaiser at 322-3665 with outreach you would like the City to develop, including but not limited to information that you would like to see on this web page.

During the development of the Mercury Minimization Plan the City has performed a number of outreach activities. These outreaches were intended to bring awareness of specific issues to people and organizations that could benefit from the information. Listed below you will find many of the outreaches that have been performed.

Dental Facility Survey
Medical Facility Survey
Industry Survey
School Survey
Fond du Lac County Dental Society Meeting (Presentation)
Presentation to Southern District of WWOA (Presentation)
General Public Informational Pamphlet
Medical Facility Informational Pamphlet
Industrial Informational Pamphlet
Amalgam Separator Code

The City is eager to work with organizations that have similar goals. Please contact the City if you or your organization are looking to conduct or be part of an environmentally beneficial project.
The DNR is interested in all forms of mercury release, not just those that involve discharge to the wastewater treatment plant. As one of the City’s most active environmental departments, the wastewater treatment plant staff may be of assistance to you in your efforts, and can gain recognition for your accomplishments through inclusion in the City’s Mercury Minimization Plan.

Projects that your organization may be interested in could include sponsoring public outreach programs or organizing recycling drives.  

At the beginning of 2006, the emphasis of the program is towards surveying the current uses of mercury in four sectors required by DNR. These sectors are Medical, Dental, School, and Industry.

The Wisconsin DNR's Pretreatment Program is a requirement of the federal Clean Water Act law outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 40, in various sections and subsections. The term "pretreatment discharger" refers to the situation where the facility does not discharge their wastewater directly to the waters of the state. Instead, the discharge flows into a municipal sewage treatment plant (also called a POTW or publicly owned treatment works) and mixes with other sewage for treatment before it is discharged to the waters of the state. The US EPA has designated the State of Wisconsin DNR to administer this federal code within the state. In response to this designation, the State has adopted several State Administrative Codes that describe the requirements for pretreatment discharges. These are contained in Wis. Admin. Codes NR 211, and NR 220-297.

Pretreatment dischargers are issued permits if regulated by publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) delegated to implement the program, or they are issued control documents if regulated by the Department. Control documents can be issued directly to the facility by the DNR, or the DNR can pass this permitting authority on to the local POTW if the POTW is designated as a "control authority" for this function. Permits issued by control authorities have an expiration date; control documents issued by the DNR do not have expiration dates. A control authority can develop its own discharge requirements under its municipal ordinances, but they cannot be less restrictive than the federal regulations. The discharge limitations are grouped by categories of industrial and commercial dischargers and subgrouped by the federal standard industrial coding or SIC code that applies to that facility.

Facilities that discharge in the pretreatment program are required to send periodic compliance reports (PCRs) to the DNR or the control authority for review of their compliance with pretreatment discharge limitations. These PCRs are reviewed and the data entered into a computer system for compliance tracking. The actual data entry and compliance tracking is decentralized across the state. For facilities that have DNR control documents, the compliance tracking is done by the Regional Office of the DNR. For facilities that are indirectly regulated by the control authorities, each Regional Office has designated a person or persons to track compliance and do compliance inspections and enforcement.

The Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment Resource & Recover Facility administers an industrial pretreatment program that regulates certain industrial users. These users are monitored in order to control the introduction of pollutants into the sewer system and ultimately into our treatment facility.

The industrial users are must abide by federal, state and local requirements through the use of a permit system. The Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit outlines and references the requirements necessary to comply with all applicable wastewater regulations. Major industrial permits are issued for industries with significant wastewater volumes which can impact the receiving water. Before DNR can issue or reissue a major permit, EPA concurrence is needed. Majors are determined by calculating an EPA score which considers the 6 factors listed below. A score of 80 or more results in classification as a major.

  1. Toxic pollutant protection
  2. Wastewater volume/stream flow
  3. Conventional pollutants
  4. Public health impacts
  5. Water quality factors
  6. Proximity to coastal waters or Great Lakes

All other specific (individual) industrial permits are considered industrial minors. Besides being classified as major or minor, industrial permits are also determined to be complex and non- complex. Complex permits are those surface water discharges with water quality based effluent limits, categorical limits (the industry has wastewater which fits in an industrial category identified in Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 221-297) and land disposal systems with groundwater monitoring wells. Industrial Non-complex permits include discharges of low strength wastewater (which may or may not be treated) from small industries discharging to surface water with categorical limits

Compliance monitoring samples are collected by Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment Resource & Recovery Facility personnel.

Each industrial user’s facility is inspected annually by Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment Resource & Recovery Facility personnel. As part of these inspections, all operations that use water are reviewed, including any pretreatment system.

The Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment Resource & Recovery Facility is proud of the effort it makes to control the discharge of pollutants into the sewer system. Our goal is to reduce our environmental footprint and improve our local environment.

PERMITS Through the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit program, the DNR regulates municipal, industrial, and animal waste operations discharging water to surface or groundwaters. Each permit contains monitoring, reporting, and operational requirements needed to ensure protection of Wisconsin's water resources. The department makes a determination on whether a particular facility is appropriately covered by a general or specific permit. Specific permits are issued to individual facilities.

The DNR regulates municipal and industrial operations discharging wastewater to surface or groundwaters through the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit program.

"Point source" dischargers, facilities discharging wastewater to surface water from a specific point such as from the end of a pipe, must meet either the federal minimum requirements for secondary treatment in the case of a municipality, and technology-based categorical (base level) limits for industries, or the discharges must meet levels necessary to achieve water quality standards, whichever is more stringent. Land disposal systems also receive permits with limits established to protect groundwater. WPDES permits also address the land application of municipal and industrial wastewater sludge deemed safe for land spreading. Where necessary to achieve effluent limits, a WPDES wastewater permit includes a compliance schedule for making improvements in the treatment facility.

The WPDES Wastewater Permit Program controls:

  1. Effluent discharged by industries and municipalities to surface waters and groundwater.
  2. Sludge and by-product solids disposal practices.
  3. Facility upgrading through plan approval.
  4. Correction of overflows and bypasses.
  5. Municipal regulation of industrial pretreatment.
  6. Discharges of toxic substances to surface or ground waters.
  7. Maintenance of the quality of surface water and groundwater resources (antidegradation, compliance maintenance, etc).

The Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment Resource & Recovery Facility is allowed to discharge treated wastewater into Lake Winnebago under the guidance and conditions of our WPDES permit. This permit is renewable every five years and sets the conditions and requirements that determine the degree of treatment we must provide in order to comply with the regulations of the state.


Did you know the average family of four generates 36 lbs. of food waste each week, or nearly 2,000 lbs. a year?

Don’t send your leftovers to a landfill, instead, grind them up and send them down the drain to be recycled at the Fond du Lac Wastewater Treatment & Resouce Recovery Facility. This keeps the food scraps from being trucked to landfills where the waste decomposes and produces methane, a powerful gas linked to global warming.

We’ll turn your leftovers into energy, saving money and the environment. Food waste fuels lower sewer bills. Food scraps produce methane gas that the Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility captures and turns into power to run our facility.

Never put fats, oils or grease down the drain. This can lead to basement backups, sewer overflows and expensive plumbing repairs. Instead, pour grease into a container and throw it in the trash.


The storm drain on your curbside does more than guzzle gutter water. It leads directly to our natural water system, including local creeks, ponds and streams. Unlike household drains that route to a treatment plant, storm drains travel underground and funnel into our waterways untreated. When that water is tainted by pollutants it creates stormwater pollution which seriously impacts our natural water resources.

What Pollutes Stormwater?
Stormwater pollution has many sources. Water from washing cars and over-watering lawns enters our storm drain system carrying detergents, pesticides, fertilizers and pet waste. Rainwater innocently washes sediment, grease, dirt, motor oil and antifreeze from sidewalks, streets, driveways and parking lots. Storm-water pollution is also caused by illegal dumping, such as pouring paint or oil into storm drains.

Did You Know?
Just one quart of motor oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of water. This is enough water to cover almost 6 acres with 1 foot of water.


A sanitary sewer is a separate underground carriage system specifically for transporting sewage from houses and commercial buildings to treatment or disposal. Sanitary sewers serving industrial areas also carry industrial wastewater.
Sanitary sewers are operated separately and independently of storm sewers, which carry the runoff of rain and other water which wash into city streets.

What is a sewer main? A sewer main is a utility pipe that carries wastewater from the connected laterals to the wastewater treatment plant (via sewer force or gravity main). The main is owned and maintained by the City.

What is a gravity main?  Gravity mains are large networks of underground pipes that convey wastewater from individual households to a centralized treatment facility using gravity. The system is designed with many branches. Typically, the network is subdivided into primary (main sewer lines along main roads), secondary, and tertiary networks (network at the neighborhood and household level). Gravity mains do not require onsite pretreatment or storage of the wastewater. Because the waste is not treated before it is discharged, the sewer must be designed to maintain self-cleansing velocity (i.e. a flow that will not allow particles to accumulate). A constant downhill gradient must be guaranteed along the length of the sewer to maintain self-cleaning flows.


A force main is a pressurized main pipe which can carry sewage counter gravitationally (from lower to higher elevations). A force main pipeline carries wastewater from a pump station to other pipes further along in the system. The word "force" refers to the fact that the pipeline is under pressure, rather than relying on gravity to move wastewater. 

Force mains are used to convey wastewater from a lower to higher elevation, particularly where the elevation of the source is not sufficient for gravity flow.


What is a sewer lateral?  A sewer lateral is the pipeline that connects the property to the City’s sanitary sewer main.  The sewer lateral is owned and maintained by the property owner including any part which may extend into the street or public right-of-way.


Periodically, a vertical pipe will run up from the main to the surface, where it is covered by a manhole cover. Manholes allow access to the main for maintenance purposes.

Access manholes are placed at set intervals along the sewer, at pipe intersections and at changes in pipeline direction (vertically and horizontally). The primary network requires rigorous engineering design to ensure that a self-cleansing velocity is maintained, that manholes are placed as required and that the sewer line can support the traffic weight. As well, extensive construction is required to remove and replace the road above. Manholes are installed wherever there is a change of grade or alignment and are used for inspection and cleaning.


When a downhill grade cannot be maintained, a lift station must be installed. Primary sewers are laid beneath roads, and must be laid at depths of 1.5 to 3m to avoid damages caused by traffic loads.
A lift station pumps or lifts the waste stream from low lying areas to higher lying areas, so gravity can carry the flow to the treatment plant. Some areas must be pumped because the gravity areas are not possible.

Checks are performed on each station daily and records are maintained for run time on pumps and for flow calculations. Maintenance procedures and general housekeeping are also performed at each station. Checks are done on backup generators for readiness in case of power outages. For stations without built-in generators staff has portable generators which can be set up to operate the pump station.

All of the stations are on a SCADA tracking and alarm system. Computers monitor wet well levels and pump operation. If a pump fails an alarm is sent for the operator to respond and fix the problem. The system also keeps historical data to be used for reporting purposes.


The City of Fond du Lac has a maintenance and cleaning program to keep the sanitary sewer system operating efficiently and to minimize the number of calls for service. Each month staff cleans high maintenance areas. These are problem areas due to excessive grease build up, flat lines, or roots clogging the lines.

Sewer cleaning using hydraulic or mechanical methods performed on a routine basis helps to remove accumulated debris in the pipe such as sand, silt, grease, roots and rocks. If debris is allowed to accumulate, it reduces the pipe capacity and a blockage can eventually occur resulting in overflows from the system onto streets, yards, basements, and into surface waters. The City of Fond du Lac has a full time crew assigned to flushing the sanitary sewer mains.


The City of Fond du Lac uses high-pressure sewer jet trucks and sewer vacuum trucks to clean the sanitary sewer system. To clean sanitary sewers the City uses high-pressure water to propel a jet nozzle at the end of a specialized hose through the sewer pipeline, breaking through obstructions and blockages. A flushing nozzle is installed on the end of the jet truck’s hose and the hose is lowered into the downstream manhole of the sewer section being cleaned.

This method uses high-pressure water to flush out stone, sediment or other unwanted material from the sewer. As the jet hose is rewound, high-pressure water cleans the sewer walls and back flushes all the debris.

Sewer vacuum trucks are used to vacuum out sediment, sand, stone, bricks rocks or other debris cleaned out from the sewer system. The vacuum truck can be used in conjunction with the sewer jet during cleaning operations when the sewer is too deep to clam out the material by hand or when an abundance of material is brought back to the manhole.

Sewer backup often occurs when storm water enters the sanitary sewer and causes an overload of water in the system. The overloaded system begins to backflow into household lines, causing sewer water to enter basements.

Call the City at the time you're having a problem so we can check the sanitary sewer system. We need to know when and where these backups occur so we can analyze the area to determine if we can reasonably reduce future occurrences.

During periods of prolonged heavy rainfalls, it is common to experience slower moving drains until the system catches up.


Root intrusion may be the single most destructive problem facing sanitary and storm sewer lines.

Roots thrive in the warm, moist nutrient rich atmosphere above the water surface inside sanitary sewers. The flow of warm water inside the sanitary sewer service pipe causes water vapor to escape to the cold soil surrounding the pipe. Tree roots are attracted to the water vapor leaving the pipe and they follow the vapor trail to the source of the moisture, which are usually cracks or loose joints in the sewer pipe.

Upon reaching the crack or pipe joint, tree routes will penetrate the opening to reach the nutrients and moisture inside the pipe. This phenomenon continues in winter even though trees appear to be dormant.

Once inside the pipe, roots will continue to grow and if not disturbed, they will completely fill the pipe with multiple hair-like root masses at each point of entry. The root mass inside the pipe becomes matted with grease, tissue paper, and other debris discharged from the residence or business. Homeowners will notice the first signs of a slow flowing drainage system by hearing gurgling noises from toilet bowls and observing wet areas around floor drains after completing the laundry. A complete blockage will occur if no remedial action is taken to remove the roots/blockage.

As roots continue to grow, they expand and exert considerable pressure at the crack or joint where they entered the pipe. The force exerted by the root growth will break the pipe and may result in total collapse of the pipe. Severe root intrusion and pipes that are structurally damaged will require replacement.

Tree roots growing inside sewer pipes are generally the most expensive sewer maintenance item experienced by City residents. Roots from trees growing on private property and on parkways throughout the City are responsible for many of the sanitary sewer service backups and damaged sewer pipes.

Once roots are in your lateral they will likely cause a blockage. The best way to prevent this is to schedule regular cleaning of your sewer lateral. The common method of removing roots from sanitary sewer service pipes involves the use of augers, root saws, and high-pressure flushers. It is also important to keep your sewer lateral structurally sound. Any structural fault can allow roots a way into your sewer lateral. You may wish to hire a plumber to video your sewer lateral to determine its condition and if any repairs are needed.


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