Proposed water deal garners support
New Berlin residents may weigh in at tonight's
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
New Berlin - With public opinion on a potential
deal to purchase Lake Michigan water swaying toward "overwhelmingly
positive," city residents will have one last chance tonight
to weigh in on the city's possible solution to anticipated
drinking water woes.
A public hearing on a tentative deal to buy water from
the City of Milwaukee will begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall,
3805 S. Casper Drive.
With the gap between supply and demand for water in New
Berlin expected to grow to 3 million gallons a day by
2020, New Berlin officials say the city needs to act soon
to make sure it has an adequate water supply in years
"It's more than a financial discussion at this point,"
said Mayor Ted Wysocki. "It's a true strategic decision
as to the reliability of our future water supply."
Wysocki said tonight's public input to New Berlin's Common
Council and the Utility Committee will be a factor in
the Utility Committee's March 5 discussion of the potential
water deal. The public's views also will be considered
when the council votes, probably March 11.
At two public information meetings last month detailing
the city's water situation, New Berlin residents' reaction
to the Lake Michigan deal was "overwhelmingly positive,"
"People overwhelmingly felt it was a much better approach
to guarantee a (water) supply in the future," Wysocki
Besides the lake water deal, city officials have also
considered remaining solely on a groundwater system and
building additional municipal wells to serve current water
utility customers. Both solutions are expected to cost
about $14.5 million.
However, some officials say they're skeptical of relying
on groundwater because of water quality issues. Most of
the available ground supply is in western New Berlin.
That aquifer also serves surrounding communities that
do not have the option to purchase lake water in the near
New Berlin is able to pursue a deal for Lake Michigan
water because Milwaukee is initially looking to serve
areas east of the subcontinental divide. Milwaukee would
have to petition the Council of Great Lakes Governors
if it wanted to divert lake water to west of the divide,
and that petition process could take years.
New Berlin and the Milwaukee Water Works reached a tentative
agreement last year that would allow lake water to flow
through faucets in eastern New Berlin.
Ald. Dave Ament, a member of New Berlin's Utility Committee,
also said he has heard positive comments about the possible
purchase of lake water.
"It's amazing," Ament said. "I've been asking people
for feedback, and from everything I've been getting, basically,
people want it. . . . I have not heard from anybody that
was really strongly against it."