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Great Lakes Article:

DNR to deny Water Authority’s radium bid
Delay for compliance was sought
By Peter Rebhahn
The Green Bay Press Gazette
07/23/03


State regulators will deny at least a portion of a plan key to a drinking water deal between Green Bay and eight suburbs intended to let the suburbs meet new standards for radium in drinking water.

After the state Department of Natural Resources issues its verdict on the city of Green Bay’s test of aquifer storage and recovery, the suburbs of the Central Brown County Water Authority would like 36 to 48 months to meet radium standards.

DNR Water division administrator Todd Ambs said Tuesday that he will sign a letter this week denying that request.

"We can’t approve something today that says they won’t have compliance till 2008," Ambs said. "They want the (deadline) clock to start ticking after the decision is made relative to ASR, and we’re not in a position to do that. EPA won’t allow us."

It’s still unclear whether the DNR will allow the suburbs to use a so-called interim agreement with the city of Green Bay beyond December 2006. That’s when the federal Environmental Protection Agency will require suburbs to meet their radium limits.

"I can’t say that today," Ambs said.

Water authority President Len Teresinski couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

The water authority communities are Allouez, Ashwaubenon, Bellevue, De Pere, Hobart, Howard, Lawrence and Ledgeview.

Aquifer storage and recovery is a water-storage technique in which treated drinking water is stored underground in wells converted from pumping to storage.

The DNR enacted rules last year legalizing use of aquifer storage and recovery in Wisconsin for water utilities that first pass rigorous tests. The outcome of Green Bay’s ongoing test of aquifer storage and recovery probably won’t be known for a year.

Aquifer storage and recovery is central to a city-suburbs drinking-water deal more than two years in the making. If Green Bay’s test fails, the suburbs plan to fall back on one of a variety of plans, including one that calls for a $135 million suburbs-only Lake Michigan pipeline and water system.

But the suburbs need three years to build a new system, meaning they’d miss the December 2006 deadline.

The interim agreement already hammered out between the city and suburbs would have the city supplying the suburbs with radium-free lake water before the 2006 deadline - and possibly after - with the suburbs only pumping radium-tainted groundwater from municipal wells in the dry months of July and August.

Permission for the suburbs to extend an interim agreement with the city past 2006 could be crucial to a deal. Ambs said that permission will depend on the specifics of the suburbs’ radium compliance plan, which now exists only in draft form.

"We’ve got some flexibility," Ambs said. "We’re just not going to have the flexibility they’re asking for."

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