New Berlin, Milwaukee reach deal on water
Tentative purchase pact will go to panel,
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
New Berlin - As the city grapples with a looming
gap between supply and demand for water, officials have
reached a tentative agreement with the City of Milwaukee
that would allow Lake Michigan water to flow through New
But New Berlin officials say there will be much public
debate before the city would enter a contract with the
Milwaukee Water Works to buy purified lake water.
"We've reached a potential business agreement for Milwaukee
water. . . . The terms are there," said New Berlin Mayor
Ted Wysocki. "But that does not mean we've made a decision
to do that."
Wysocki said that an agreement has been reached with
Milwaukee after months of negotiations. But he would not
disclose any details of the pact, which he said will go
before the city's Utility Committee next month.
Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Carrie Lewis could
not be reached Thursday for comment.
In June, the Milwaukee Common Council voted 10-7 to grant
the Water Works the authority to negotiate the sale of
lake water to New Berlin, an agreement that was estimated
to bring in about $608,000 a year for Milwaukee.
Supporters on the Milwaukee council argued that the Water
Works has excess capacity and that increasing sales to
the suburbs would help keep rates down for city customers.
But critics suggested that such sales are shortsighted,
allowing suburbs to grow at the expense of the city.
The Milwaukee Water Works already sells water to all
or part of more than a dozen suburbs that previously drew
water from wells, including Menomonee Falls and Butler.
The deals are expected to net Milwaukee about $74.1 million
Wysocki noted that buying Milwaukee water is only one
option available to New Berlin as the city determines
how to keep pace with the rising demand. According to
projections, the gap between supply and demand for water
is expected to grow to 3 million gallons per day by 2020,
barring some type of remedy.
New Berlin officials must still debate options that include
continuing to rely solely on groundwater. Wysocki noted,
however, that such an option could prove too costly if
the city had to start using a water treatment system to
meet federal requirements for certain contaminants, including
radium and iron, in New Berlin's 10 municipal wells.
"If we're forced to go deeper and deeper in our wells
to find water, we will have to treat it," Wysocki said.
Commenting on ongoing negotiations, Utility Committee
member Bob Dude said earlier this month that he believed
the offer presented by Milwaukee is "fair and equitable,"
and he recommended that New Berlin move forward with it.
Citing his concerns about the city's water supply for
the future, Wysocki also has requested that the committee
move quickly to make a recommendation to the New Berlin
Wysocki said this week that a Utility Committee endorsement
of the Lake Michigan water proposal would set off a series
of public meetings held during the day, evening and weekends
to provide information to New Berlin residents.
"If we have the ability now to become a customer . .
. on an agreement we can both live with, it's a win-win,"