Wastewater Treatment Plant

City of Charlevoix

P&N helps find solutions for Charlevoix's outdated wastewater treatment plant, summer demand spikes, and cold water nitrification.

The City of Charlevoix’s wastewater treatment plant was constructed in 1972 and needed upgrading to achieve design and safety standards, as well as meeting new regulations from the Department of Environmental Quality regarding ammonia output. Charlevoix’s northern–Michigan climate complicates the treatment: the wastewater entering the treatment plant is often too cold in the winter for biological mechanisms to nitrify the wastewater. Tourism creates another problem: the need for WWTP processes drops by half during the winter season, a huge fluctuation in load.

Charlevoix hired P&N to redesign its wastewater treatment plant to solve both problems. Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) technology creates a high enough density population of bacteria to biodegrade the waste at colder temperatures. It is much easier to maintain, expandable, and responsive to changes in load amounts (important for Charlevoix’s summer peak population). Ultraviolet disinfection uses UV radiation to destroy the cell’s ability to reproduce – a physical process instead of a chemical process that also does not rely on water temperature.

This design solution was estimated at $10.9 million, a large price tag for such a small community. P&N helped Charlevoix get a low interest loan from the State of Michigan and they secured $974,000 from the MDEQ with a 10% local match. P&N helped renegotiate an approach while completing a full assessment of the facility, and saved costs by moving an engineer to be effectively on-site for the project’s construction, for a full year and a half.

Check out or video on this project! Footage was taken in Fall 2015.


Quality of Life Certificate of Merit, 2016 American Society of Civil Engineers


Mark Prein, PE, Project Manager

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