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Great Lakes Article:

Water authority communities to vote on pipeline upgrade
By Peter Rebhahn
Green Bay Press Gazette

ALLOUEZ A resolution that could link Green Bay and suburbs in a shared drinking water future is headed for the suburbsí governments following approval by the Central Brown County Water Authority on Monday.

The resolution commits the authority communities Allouez, Ashwaubenon, Bellevue, De Pere, Hobart, Howard, Lawrence, Ledgeview and Scott to pay for the cost of an upgrade in the size of Green Bayís second Lake Michigan pipeline.

It determines that the pipeline size is going to be 66 inches at our request, authority President Len Teresinski said after Mondayís unanimous vote.

The suburbsí resolution is a near-copy of one endorsed last week by the Green Bay City Council in a 12-0 vote.

Teresinski said he hoped the authorityís nine member governments would vote on the resolution within the next month.

The resolution endorses continued cooperation toward a shared-drinking-water system, but doesnít commit any community to a deal.

The Green Bay Water Commission voted Feb. 27 to move ahead this year with a 54-inch diameter pipeline instead of a 66-inch diameter line, in part because the decision cut $8 million in cost from water-system upgrades estimated at $41 million with the smaller pipeline.

The commissionís vote for the 54-inch pipeline threatened to block the city-suburbs deal because it left the suburbs without a safety net if state regulators donít allow use of aquifer storage and recovery, a technique in which ready-to-drink water is stored underground in wells converted from groundwater pumping to storage.

The city could serve the fast-growing suburbs in coming decades with the smaller pipeline if state regulators give it the green light to use aquifer storage and recovery.

But the city canít serve the suburbs from the smaller pipeline without aquifer storage and recovery, or ASR, because the smaller line couldnít handle the increased pumping that would be required from Lake Michigan every day in a non-ASR deal.

If ASR fails it enables us to meet our radium compliance, and thatís the goal of the whole thing, Teresinski said.

The suburbs are racing to meet a December deadline for plans to comply with tough new federal limits for radium in drinking water. Municipal well water in at least six of the nine authority communities violates the new standard.

The authorityís resolution includes a provision not in the one endorsed by Green Bayís City Council that would have the city and suburbs cooperate on a shared pipeline in the event a deal to make the suburbs customers of the cityís water utility, either with or without ASR, doesnít happen.

In the shared pipeline scenario, the water authority would build its own treatment plant and operate as a separate water utility.

Green Bay Mayor Paul Jadin said the idea of a cooperative pipeline venture isnít new, and indicated heís willing to discuss the option.

If Plan A and Plan B fail, then we have to explore what Plan C means to the city in terms of investment and long-term relationship, Jadin said.

Teresinski said he expects to meet with Jadin to discuss the alternatives to an ASR-based deal in advance of meetings by the authorityís Technical Committee to hammer out issues surrounding a possible shared pipeline.

We may not make any progress, but weíll know where the roadblocks are, and thatís important, Teresinski said.

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