Water utility: $2.5 million spent
Brogan decries cost of negotiations, ASR studies
By Ray Barrington
Green Bay News-Chronicle
According to its own figures, the Green Bay Water Utility
has spent nearly $2.5 million on fruitless negotiations
and studies since meeting with the Central Brown County
The Water Commission's Finance Committee chairman, John
Brogan, issued a statement saying that between negotiation
fees with the Water Authority and aquifer storage and
recovery study costs, the utility had spent $2,418,996.
Of that, $719,112 was spent from 1998 to Aug. 1 on negotiations
with the authority, which represents eight suburban communities.
Brogan said $215,995 was spent on engineering fees, $167,148
on legal fees, $295,969 on financial consultants and an
estimated $40,000 on staff time. He also suggested the
city was "tapping into (water utility) resources"
for the money, and that the Water Commission had approved
little or none of it. "That's more than chump change,"
Statutorily, only the water utility has the authority
to spend its money on behalf city rate-payers, Brogan
In his role as committee chairman, Brogan told staff
that any new suburban proposals would be evaluated in
house, not by consultants. The commission decided to give
the suburbs a chance to submit a final proposal to be
decided on by Aug. 25 for a shared pipeline to bring Lake
Michigan water to the suburbs. In the meantime, the commission
will look at increasing its water capacity without building
"Considering the vagueness of this last-minute proposal
and the fact that we have spent $720,000 on these fruitless
negotiations, I personally will not support any more money
spent on outside legal, engineering and financial consultants
to evaluate the last proposal," Brogan said.
As for aquifer storage and recovery, he said, engineering
and contractor costs had been $1,638,890, materials had
cost $42,810 and staff time had been $18,184.
Green Bay remains interested in the use of ASR to help
solve future water demand by providing large storage areas
for water. But it has only tested one well, which failed
after arsenic was found in the water that was stored and
removed. Green Bay is testing the well again, this time
with a well lining.
In addition, the suburbs have not tested any wells, in
part because only one suburb, Ashwaubenon, has a well
it could take out of service for testing.
"After working on ASR for almost five years and
spending $1.7 million, I believe it is time for the commission
to assess how much more time and money we should spend
on this project," Brogan said.
He asked staff to work with consultants for projections
by December of the cost to complete the current test -
which ends in July - some estimates of the probability
of success, and the amount of testing needed by the state
Department of Natural Resources for a full ASR system.