Revenue in water deal estimated at $608,000
Milwaukee panel backs sale to New Berlin
By CORISSA JANSEN
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
June 15 2002
A deal to sell Lake Michigan water to New Berlin would
generate $608,000 a year for the Milwaukee Water Works
and help ward off future rate increases for existing customers,
Water Works Superintendent Carrie Lewis said Friday.
"That's clearly a substantial amount of revenue for the
Water Works," Lewis told the Milwaukee Common Council's
Utilities and Licenses Committee.
Listing the advantages of selling what Chairman Jeff
Pawlinski called an "excellent product," the committee
Friday recommended that the Common Council grant Milwaukee
Water Works the authority to negotiate a water service
agreement with the Waukesha County suburb.
The Milwaukee council is scheduled to vote on the matter
As demand for water has begun to outpace supply in the
suburb of 38,000, New Berlin officials entered talks with
the Milwaukee Water Works in April 1999 for water service
in an eastern section of New Berlin that lies in the Great
Water quality is also an issue for New Berlin, which
relies entirely on groundwater sources for its water supply.
As radium and iron levels in New Berlin water begin exceeding
federal standards, Mayor Ted Wysocki said the city would
have to make a "significant capital investment" to continue
solely using its deep and shallow aquifers.
"We owe it to our utility rate payers to look into viable
options," Wysocki said.
In 2001, the city of New Berlin pumped an average of
3.4 million gallons of water per day, roughly a 36% increase
from the 2.5 million gallons per day pumped in 1990. During
that same period, the number of metered water customers
increased by 2,298, according to an analysis by the city
of Milwaukee's Legislative Reference Bureau.
If New Berlin were to purchase 1.7 million gallons of
water per day from Milwaukee, the Water Works expects
to generate $608,000 in additional annual revenue. This
year, the Water Works expects to receive a total of $74.1
million from all of its customers.
Lewis told the council committee that the Milwaukee Water
Works has "ample opportunity" to accommodate New Berlin.
On a typical day, the Water Works treats about 130 million
gallons - well under its maximum design capacity of about
380 gallons per day.
The Water Works already sells Lake Michigan water to
all or part of more than a dozen suburbs that previously
relied on well water.
Wysocki said Friday that New Berlin is still considering
all of its options and has not locked itself into entering
a deal for Lake Michigan water, even if the Milwaukee
Common Council votes to pursue negotiations.
Pawlinski said he has always been an advocate of water
sales, though he noted that the issue has sparked debate
on the Milwaukee Common Council floor in the past.
"We ought to take advantage of selling our product when
we can," Pawlinski said.
However, Milwaukee Ald. Michael Murphy said he opposes
selling water to suburbs because it promotes urban sprawl
and gives those communities a leg up on Milwaukee in the
competition for job-creating businesses. But in tight
budget times, Murphy said he thinks the majority of the
council will support such a sale.
"We're in dire straits - we need every penny we can get
right now," Murphy said. "But it fails to look at the
big picture in terms of the larger issues of urban sprawl
and smart growth planning."
This isn't the first time New Berlin has sought Milwaukee
water. When rapid growth in the 1970s contributed to well
levels dropping by 8 feet per year, Milwaukee studied
and rejected a number of New Berlin's requests, according
to the Legislative Reference Bureau report.
The Milwaukee Common Council had been concerned about
competition with New Berlin for industrial development,
as dozens of firms had left the city in the 1970s and
moved to New Berlin's industrial park.
There is no industrial development planned in the New
Berlin area currently under discussion, which is already