DNR to deny Water Authority’s
Delay for compliance was sought
By Peter Rebhahn
The Green Bay Press Gazette
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
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