Green Bay: Dry up, suburbs
Green Bay tells Water Authority it won't build a pipeline
but instead will increase pumping and filtering capacity
By Ray Barrington
Green Bay News-Chronicle
The Green Bay Water Commission told the City Council Tuesday
night it plans to drop its request for a new pipeline
to Lake Michigan and instead will boost pumping and filtering
capacity on its present line.
The move comes after the Central Brown County Water Authority
filed a request with the state Public Service Commission
to intervene in the city's plans for a new pipeline to
the lake. The city and suburbs that make up the authority
have been negotiating for the suburban purchase of city
The city commission said it would approve the move at
its Tuesday meeting if the suburbs don't withdraw the
request to the PSC.
"We don't feel the PSC belongs in the negotiations,"
said Mayor Jim Schmitt.
The council did not take any official action, but almost
all of the comments on the commission's suggestion were
Water authority president Len Teresinski, village president
of Hobart, was in a meeting Tuesday and could not be reached
for comment. The authority is scheduled to meet at 1:30
p.m. today at the Ashwaubenon Village Hall, and again
Thursday to present options to village officials.
Schmitt said that if the suburbs withdrew the request,
negotiations could resume at the point where they ended,
which was relatively close to an agreement. The two sides
need to reach an agreement by Sept. 1, when the commission
had to decide on the size of a new pipeline.
The request of the PSC shocked the city, which fears
the PSC could require a pipeline serving both sides, setting
rates that would almost double city users' water rates.
Even if the city won, it might face delays because of
court appeals, keeping it from building the pipeline and
being unable to meet water demands in 2005.
"We will not be held hostage," said Charlie
Parke of the city's Water Commission.
The new plan from the city commission would:
- Withdraw the city's request to build a new pipeline
to the lake.
- Expand the city system's filtering and pumping capacity
to 42 million gallons a day.
With the available three wells, the city could meet its
needs for 20 years, said commission vice chairman John
It could be more if the city is able to use aquifer storage
and recovery, which keeps treated water in underground
wells. If not, the city would build a larger pipeline
at a later date.
"We're deferring significant capital investment
during the time we're trying to prove ASR works or not,"
He estimated the move would cost residential rate-payers
an estimated 34-cent per 1,000-gallon hike.
The plan does carry an increased risk of a line break,
Brogan said, with the city planning to keep spare parts
on hand and working with its supplier for a four-hour
response time for any problem.
He said the suburbs, in the words of a legal brief by
commission attorneys, were trying to "hijack"
"I would urge you to question their real objectives
- do they want Green Bay water at bargain prices while
driving up the costs of Green Bay residents?" Brogan
"The authority threw some manure into the fan, and
they're going to get back what they deserve - some manure
in their face," Ald. Guy Zima said. "If we can't
get something done quickly with these people, let's go
on our own."
Still, Brogan said, the city would be willing to supply
water to an ASR system that could serve the suburbs.
"We would supply water if it's win-win and technically
feasible," he said. "I question the leadership
of the CBCWA in making that move," said Ald. Chris
Wery. "I don't believe Joe Citizen in the suburbs
really knows what's going on."
Ald. Dan Haefs expressed concern about the strain on
the pipeline, which has been in operation since the 1950s.
Parke said the average life expectancy of a pipeline is
100 years and the plan was to replace it after 75 years.