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Great Lakes Article:

Water talks coming down to the wire
Patti Zarling
Green Bay News-Chronicle
08/24/03


In a matter that seems to have more to do with politics and politicians than in what's best for local taxpayers, the De Pere City Council briefly discussed Tuesday the shaky future of water talks with the city of Green Bay.

De Pere is part of the Central Brown County Water Authority - a group of suburbs that is hoping to buy water from Green Bay as local wells become inadequate.

Talks have been going on for more than two years and seem to have come to a standstill. Green Bay leaders apparently are worried the city either will end up spending more than it should to help build a second pipe line to Lake Michigan, or that the suburbs won't pay enough for water.

The city has given the suburbs until Monday to come up with a final proposal. City officials also are looking at doing construction on Green Bay's current pipe rather than building a second pipeline.

The distrust on the parts of the city and suburbs seems to stem from a decision the suburbs made 50 years ago, when they were much more rural, not to join with Green Bay in building a first pipeline to Lake Michigan. Green Bay officials still seem bitter about the suburbs' lack of commitment at that time, and worried the suburbs are changing their tune now because they have no choice.

Some leaders in the suburbs, for their part, have hinted Green Bay is being selfish and unfair.

Green Bay is putting out bids for work, but suburban leaders say it still is possible Green Bay could work out an agreement with the Water Authority.

The Water Authority has asked the state Public Service Commission to step in and review both Green Bay's and the Authority's positions and to make a recommendation. Green Bay leaders have condemned the PSC's involvement.

The De Pere City Council is expected to vote on whether or not to participate in an agreement in early September.

Leaders warn that whether the suburbs buy water from Green Bay or build their own pipe, residents can expect to pay more for water.

In other action, the council voted in favor of a second reading of an amendment to a zoning ordinance that would allow churches to be built in business districts. The change must go through three readings before it is officially on the books. Alds. Donald Thyes and Mike Fleck voted against the measure.

The council is making the change after New Life Christian Fellowship threatened to take the city to court for religious discrimination. New Life is moving into the former Steckert's building on Wisconsin Street.

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