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Great Lakes Article:

Council hears water options, issues
By Ray Barrington
Green Bay News-Chronicle
05/04/03

Green Bay City Council members heard the numbers Tuesday on the various options the city faces in its water future - with and without serving suburban communities.

In an information session before Tuesday's uneventful City Council meeting, council members got technical and legal information on issues linked to a deal between the city and the Central Brown County Water Authority to sell water from the city's Lake Michigan pipeline to nine suburbs.

The city and suburbs have agreed on the details of a sale involving aquifer storage and recovery, the storing of treated water in wells, and are still working on details on a backup plan involving direct service.

To handle that direct service, however, would take a larger pipeline than the city's Water Commission has planned to build - 66 inches as opposed to 54 inches.

Engineer Warren Green said the city could still build the larger pipeline by 2005 if it bid the larger and smaller pipelines at the same time and built the larger pipeline with several crews at the same time rather than building it in one long unit.

The council has backed the larger pipe.

Former mayor Paul Jadin, speaking as the former negotiator, emphasized that for the city to build its own pipeline would mean a 16 percent rate increase for the city's bulk users as opposed to shared costs of a pipe - even a larger one - with the CBCWA.

He said "the opposition," implying the Water Commission, was "in pursuit of effectively avoiding the issue."

He said the backup plan - an agreement of full service to the suburbs without ASR - would have to be in place by Oct. 1.

The city commission has said a larger pipeline would be a waste of money if ASR is approved, and that a state Supreme Court decision meant service would have to continue in perpetuity.

Attorney Sandy Williams of Foley & Lardner said he believed a tightly written agreement between the city and authority, blessed by the state Public Service Commission, could avoid the "once served, never denied" decision.

The city is negotiating with the suburbs on possible service to allow the suburbs to use some city water to avoid radium standards by 2006 that would require it to stop use of most suburban wells. The suburbs would use city water to average the amount of radium in drinking water.

Green presented numbers showing the city alone would require a maximum-day demand of 54.4 million gallons a day by 2050. The city can process 31.4 mgd today, and projects in the works, either being built or on the drawing board, would run the city-only capacity to 56 mgd.

But with the suburban demand mixed in, peak demand would be 98 mgd by 2050. He said a system to handle that amount of water would cost $154 million with $121.6 million coming from the CBCWA, $32.4 million from the city. The expanded system would require three intake pipes at Lake Michigan, an expanded pumping station, 42- and 66-inch pipes to an expanded treatment plant, and a separate new pipeline to be shared by both the authority and city, along with authority costs for its own distribution system.

He said that if the Green Bay utility went on its own, all work could be completed by fall 2006. That would also be the case if a joint suburban project with ASR were to work.

But some of the work for a nonASR suburban system, notably the building of an expanded treatment plant, might not be done until early 2008.

Green Bay could face problems if it was to replace its existing 42-inch pipeline. Before it is removed, a new pipeline would have to be built or else Green Bay could not meet its own demand. That would require about $25,000 in land costs to build the third line.

Meanwhile, Ald. Ron Antonneau has asked the city's Personnel Committee to look at the "role of the Water Commission" in city government.

"I don't really know what I want to do," he said. "It just seems that when we have the mayor and city council pulling one way and the commission another, it isn't good."

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