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New offer from city on water deal
Both the city and suburbs call it 'significant'
By Ray Barrington
The Green Bay News-Chronicle


A meeting of elected officials in the municipalities served by the Central Brown County Water Authority was overshadowed Thursday night by a new proposal from Green Bay in its continuing bid to sell water to the suburbs.

Neither Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt or authority president Len Teresinski wanted to go into detail about the new offer, proposed earlier in the day. But both said it was a notable move. It was described as a modification of the "contributed capital" option, one more favorable to the suburbs.

"It's a significant new opportunity," Schmitt said.

It will have to survive scrutiny from the lawyers on both sides, however, before either man would comment about the details.

"It's a significant change from the contributed capital. It's a change, but is it a good one?" said Teresinski.

The authority will discuss the matter in a closed meeting on Monday. The move came hours before officials from the eight communities the authority represents met to get an update on the water plans.

They heard from authority board members about the options they had and the timetable to make decisions. It was the first of two meetings, with this one providing background and a second one, possibly on July 30, providing actual numbers on what the options will cost.

Teresinski promised a recommendation on the best option at that meeting. "We appreciate your patience, and we're coming to the 11th hour when we give you our proposal," he said.

Pressed by Tim Green of Bellevue, Teresinski cited the complexity of putting together a deal. He added that with deadlines looming, the numbers would have to be available at the next meeting.

"I guarantee you we will have that," he said. "It has to be done."

In a presentation to the board members and presidents of the municipalities, the authority went over what will be needed for a supply of water from Lake Michigan to replace a dwindling, radium-riddled aquifer.

If the authority buys water from Green Bay, for example, four contracts may need to be signed: a contract for the possible use of aquifer storage and recovery (underground water storage), a backup option in which water goes directly to the authority, a possible interim contract with Green Bay for a short-term water sale to overcome 2006 radium compliance deadlines, and a member purchase agreement. The agreement would cover the sale of water from the authority to the member communities. Each community would pay the same rate for water, although individual communities would charge their users different amounts based on each municipality's individual costs.

The authority also talked about its options with Green Bay, including who would pay for the building of the pipeline. Under the contributed capital option, the authority would bond for and give to Green Bay what it would need to expand its system, paying for water, operating costs and depreciation. This is the proposal that Green Bay modified Wednesday.

Another modified option, offered by the water authority last week, would have it build a new intake and help build a larger pipeline, take raw water, and send it to its own treatment plant. A third would see both sides share costs and ownership. And a fourth option is for the authority to build its own pipeline to the lake.

Also discussed were the deadlines. The authority wants a decision on a Green Bay agreement by Aug. 1 to have time for the communities to discuss and vote on approval. Approval would be needed by Sept. 14, a day before Green Bay would accept bids on a new pipeline to the lake. The size of the pipeline depends on what option is chosen.

Rich Heidl of Hobart asked who would be the overseer of any deal. "Who keeps the water authority honest?" he asked.

De Pere's Ron Simonson said the control over the authority was the membership of the communities.

Steve Bach of Hobart asked about what would happen if the 2006 radium deadlines were missed. Teresinski said the issue was being discussed with the state Departmentof Natural Resources, with the authority trying to get a small delay to be able to complete the system.

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