Water Utility History

The Neenah Water Utility is a class AB (more than 4000 service connections) public utility owned by the City of Neenah and operated by the Neenah Water Commission. The Commission includes three citizen members appointed by the City Council to five year terms, a City Council representative appointed to a one year term, and the Mayor who serves as the Commission president. The Neenah Water Utility has one part time and 17 full time employees.

The Neenah Water Utility was established in the early 1900’s and originally consisted of a well water supply. In response to increasing demands from City residents for an improved source of water the water filtration plant was constructed in 1936 at it’s present location on the west shore of Lake Winnebago. It is the sixth largest body of fresh water in the United States, with virtually an unlimited water supply. The Neenah Water Utility has since continually supplied water to the City of Neenah from this source.

The original plant was rated at 2.0 million gallons per day (MGD) and was a conventional lime softening treatment plant that consisted of a rapid mix chamber, flocculation basin, sedimentation basin, recarbonation chamber, three rapid sand filters and a finished water clear well. A 600,000 gallon elevated water tank was erected on the plant site in 1936.

During the 1950’s, the plant was expanded to 6.0 MGD by building an additional 4.0 MGD lime softening treatment plant with six additional rapid sand filters. A 2.0 million gallon underground storage reservoir was added at Cedar Street, on block to the west of the plant. In addition, a 300,000 gallon elevated water tank was added at Cecil Street.

As the City continued to grow, water demand grew, and resulted in the construction of an additional 3.0 MGD of lime softening treatment capacity with six additional rapid sand filters, in 1971.

In 1997, an additional 500,000-gallon elevated tank was added in the south industrial park.

In 2007, the old softening basin, rapid sand filtration and most of the remaining old plant were replaced with new units with a capacity of 12.0 MGD. In addition, conventional treatment and granular activation carbon contactors were added. Ultraviolet light disinfection was added and sodium hypochlorite replaced the old chlorine gas disinfection. The new plant meets all 2013 US EPA and State of Wisconsin requirements.

In addition, a new plant above ground clearwell replaced the old plant underground clearwell and the underground Cedar Street reservoir. The old elevated tanks were replaced with a new 1.0 MG tank at Cecil Street. The total storage is now 4.0 MG.

With each new addition to the treatment plant, pumping capacity has been added. Both raw water and finished water pumping capacity are rated at 17 MGD. In addition emergency generation equipment is on site that allows the plant to operate at 6 MGD when power from WE Energies is not available. There are also agreements in place with neighboring utilities to supply water in an emergency.

The new plant can be expanded in 18.0 MGD by adding another softener, increasing filtering rates, increasing the media depth on the GAC contractors, expanding the raw and finished water pump station, and adding additional recarbonation.

The average day pumpage in 2001 was 4.774 million gallons, and the peak day pumpage was 8.800 million gallons. The industrial sector accounted for approximately 48.8 percent of the consumption in 2001. The residential sector accounted for approximately 35.5 percent of the consumption in 2001.

The construction of the new plant corresponded to the national weak economy and the water demand dropped at that time, but it began to recover in 2010. In 2013, the average day pumpage was 3.80 million gallons, and the peak day pumpage was 5.94 million gallons.

Water mains in service have increased from 99 miles in 1987 to over 141 miles in 2013, with pipe size ranging from 4-inch to 20-inch. The number of customers has increased from 8,811 in 1987 to 10,405 in 2013.

Water utility revenues have increased from $1.834 million in 1991 to $8.362 million in 2013.

City ordinances in general, permit the sale of water only to properties within the City limits. However, there is one residential property outside of the City limits that was grandfathered in from the mid 1950’s.