Committee aims to assist Iowa towns in treating wastewater

Matt Wildman leads a committee that focuses on wastewater treatment solutions for small Iowa communities. (KC McGinnis/CGRER)
Matt Wildman leads the inagural meeting for the IAWEA Small Community Committe on January 15, 2016 in Cedar Rapids. (KC McGinnis/CGRER)
Nick Fetty | January 15, 2016

A Cedar Rapids engineer has organized a committee to help small Iowa communities in treating wastewater.

Matt Wildman is a Project Manager for the engineering firm HR Green and he hosted the first meeting for the Iowa Water Environment Association‘s (IAWEA) Small Community Committee today in Cedar Rapids.  Roughly a dozen were in attendance including representatives the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, city officials from Center Point, Walker, and Winthrop, and engineers from Des Moines-based Veenstra & Kimm, Inc. and Fehr Graham which has Iowa offices in Cedar Rapids and West Union.

Wildman – who holds a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Iowa – sat down with CGRER before the meeting to discuss the project.

*Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Tell us who you are and what got you interested in this project?

My name’s Matt Wildmann. I’m a professional engineering, a Project Manager for HR Green, a consulting firms that works around the Midwest and across the country doing water and wastewater. I started at a small firm in Minnesota doing constructive wetlands for wastewater treatment and spent about seven or eight years doing that.

Tell us about this project, the focus of today’s meeting, and what you hope to accomplish?

IAWEA is an organization that works towards clean water throughout the state and focuses primarily on municipalities, doing wastewater treatment, and working with regulators. They have committees that are focused on collection systems, on governmental affairs and many other types of issues around the state. So I felt there was a kind of a gap and that being, there’s a huge portion of the state of Iowa that is small communities that don’t really get much of the focus so I proposed to start up this small community committee to address some of those needs that the small communities have. The primary focus of what I want to do is disseminate that information out to these small communities throughout the state.

Who are some of the principle stakeholders on this committee?

So far I’m looking at some small communities, some consultants, some regulators, fund agencies including the State Revolving Fund, researchers. I’ve also contacted the League of Cities.

Why the emphasis on these smaller communities?

There seems to be a gap, from an organizational standpoint from IAWEA, to reach out to these communities but a lot of what I’ve seen occur is that new regulations come down, new permits get issued, and a lot of times this seems to be a shock to these small communities. When they get a shock then they have to figure out how to fund things. There are a lot of communities in the state that are low- to middle-income that are disadvantaged communities and doing a one million to five million to ten million dollar wastewater treatment plant is not within their financial capabilities. So we want to educate them on what to prepare for and address that and be ready for those financial impacts as well as look at other technologies that can help bring those costs down.

Right now the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has some limited resources as far as review and approval because they have a lot of projects and a lot of other things going on. So another goal of this committee would be to kind of assist the DNR in reviewing new technologies, looking for different research opportunities with the University of Iowa and Iowa State University and anybody else that can provide research opportunities to look at different technologies, and find ways to make them more affordable for these small communities and still get the same results with water treatment and improvement of water quality.


(KC McGinnis/CGRER)

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