CHIPPEWA FALLS – On any given day all summer long, I’ll drive by 1125 W. River Street in Chippewa Falls and see a large camper parked at a public dumping station alongside the road, unloading its raw sewage into a large pipe.
City engineer Rick Rubenzer said it is a service the city has provided for years, and the infrastructure is already in place.
“We make sure it’s all RVs and proper dumping,” Rubenzer said. “We keep an eye on it as much as we can. It’s just a public service we offer. We don’t advertise it, per se – it’s just word of mouth.”
Rubenzer acknowledges he isn’t sure exactly how many campers dump their waste each week, or exactly how much raw sewage is dumped.
“We don’t necessarily track it – we don’t have staff to do it,” Rubenzer said. “It goes right to the wastewater plant, where it’s treated.”
At this time, the service is likely to remain free for users, he added.
“(Charging a fee) has been loosely talked about,” he said. “As long as there isn’t something bad being dumped, we’ll continue to do it. We don’t want to have something dumped in there that would be an illegal discharge.”
If something illegal had been dumped, equipment in the plant would spot it, he added.
Large septic companies don’t stop there, Rubenzer said – they pull directly into the treatment plant, where their loads can be dumped much quicker.
Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman said he doesn’t doubt the city could invest in equipment that would allow the city to charge users each time they pull up to dump their waste, but he didn’t think it would be worth the effort.
“We look at it as a public service to the community,” Hoffman said. “Sometimes it’s people traveling through, like Rock Fest or Country Fest. It’s nice for travelers. The wastewater plant is right there – it’s not a huge burden to the city. It’s not like it’s a cost going back on the taxpayers. I don’t see a need to charge for things. I don’t see a reason to discontinue it.”
A website, www.rvdumps.com/wisconsin, lists the locations of all 75 drop-off sites in the state. Many places charge $10 or less. It notes the Chippewa Falls location is free.