Suburbs propose new water deal
Suburbs would pay for new intake, pump
By Peter Rebhahn
Green Bay Press-Gazette
Nine suburbs seeking a drinking-water agreement with Green
Bay pitched a new proposal Wednesday that could be a last
attempt to save a deal more than two years in the making.
The suburbs have sweetened a previous offer to share
the costs of a second Lake Michigan pipeline with the
city by offering to also build and donate to the city
a needed second lake water intake and pump at an estimated
cost of about $14 million.
The suburbs, which operate as the Central Brown County
Water Authority, would turn the new facilities over to
the city following a model used by communities that join
the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District.
"But we own the capacity," said authority President
The proposal would be a backup plan to a preferred plan
already agreed to in principle that would use aquifer
storage and recovery, a water-storage technique in which
municipalities store treated drinking water underground
in wells converted to storage.
In the preferred plan, which both sides agree is the
cheapest, the water authority would become a wholesale
customer of the Green Bay Water Utility.
Aquifer storage and recovery hasnít been approved by
the state Department of Natural Resources for use in Northeastern
Wisconsin, and fear that it may never pass muster with
regulators has forced negotiators for the city and suburbs
to create a backup plan.
Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt said the city would take
a hard look at the suburbsí offer "because we have
to make a decision on this by next week."
Two backup plans already introduced into talks have met
with opposition. A so-called shared facilities plan in
which the water authority would team with Green Bay to
build a shared second pipeline but not buy water from
the city is opposed by Green Bay.
In a second backup option, the water authority would
pay the cost of upgrades to Green Bayís water system needed
to supply the suburbs without aquifer storage and recovery
and become a customer of the cityís water utility.
The water authority has rejected the contributed capital
option because it determined that the plan would lead
to more expensive water than the authority could provide
residents from a shelved plan to build a $135 million
suburbs-only Lake Michigan pipeline and water system.
Brown County Planner Mike Parmentier, a consultant to
the authority, said the new wrinkle introduced Wednesday
combines the "the best of both worlds" from
the shared facilities and contributed capital options
to overcome one of the cityís biggest concerns.
"Theyíre not giving away any ownership at all,"
Parmentier said. "They still own the system.
But Schmitt said the idea isnít truly new and might just
as easily be called a modified shared facilities plan.
"Thatís exactly what it is, so now that weíre starting
to wordsmith here, Iím just telling you that it is what
it is," Schmitt said.
Under the new proposal the suburbs would also pay the
$6 million additional cost needed to upgrade Green Bayís
new Lake Michigan pipeline from 54 to 66 inches, and a
yet-to-be-determined share of the base pipelineís $30
Teresinski said he wasnít surprised by the cityís apparent
lack of enthusiasm for the proposal. "Theyíve never
looked at any of our proposals with enthusiasm,"
But Schmitt promised the city would give the new proposal
an intensive and fair review before the city and suburbsí
next negotiating session on Wednesday - a meeting that
both Teresinski and Schmitt said could be a showdown.
"Next Wednesday is going to be a big day as I see
it," Teresinski said.
Said Schmitt: "Itís decision time."