Sessions set on water supply, quality
New Berlin will hold public meetings in
January before deciding whether to buy water from Milwaukee
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
New Berlin - Before the city decides whether to
pursue a deal with the Milwaukee Water Works to buy Lake
Michigan water, New Berlin officials are planning a series
of public meetings to boil down extensive information
on water quality and supply issues.
The public information meetings are set for Jan. 15 and
18. Fliers with information about the subject will be
included with city utility bills to be mailed out the
first week in January.
"This is a major thing," New Berlin Ald. Dave Ament,
a member of the city's Utility Committee, said of the
Common Council's upcoming vote on the potential Milwaukee
"We're not going to just make this decision," Ament added.
"We want people to know what we're basing the decisions
on, and letting them have some input on it."
The city's Utility Committee has been discussing water
issues for more than a year, focusing on a voluminous
August 2001 consultants' report that outlines three possible
alternatives for future water supply in New Berlin.
The gap between supply and demand for water here is expected
to grow to 3 million gallons a day by 2020, according
to projections in the water study.
Possible remedies include using solely groundwater to
serve current water utility customers; combining groundwater
and lake water; or moving to a Lake Michigan water system
for the area of the city east of the subcontinental divide.
The 50-year costs of all three options range from about
$43 million to more than $52 million, according to the
water study, but Mayor Ted Wysocki cautioned that the
figures must be updated.
Wysocki said he's skeptical of relying solely on a groundwater
supply for the city, because most groundwater available
to increase water supply is in western New Berlin, in
an aquifer that also serves surrounding communities.
"I'm concerned about that because the aquifer has to
serve those folks out there who have no option of Lake
Michigan water in the near future," Wysocki said.
The city would have to petition the Council of Great
Lakes Governors if in the future New Berlin wanted to
divert Lake Michigan water west of the subcontinental
divide, which could be a lengthy process.
New Berlin and the Milwaukee Water Works have reached
a tentative agreement that would allow lake water to flow
through eastern New Berlin faucets, but the deal would
need approval from both the New Berlin and Milwaukee common
In summer, the Milwaukee council voted 10-7 to grant
the Water Works the authority to negotiate a deal with
New Berlin, which was estimated to bring in $608,000 a
year for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Water Works already sells water to all or part
of more than a dozen suburbs, including Butler and Menomonee
Wysocki said the New Berlin Utility Committee organized
the January public meetings because there is a lot of
information for New Berlin residents to digest before
city officials would pursue any water deals.
"We're going to try to distill as much of this as we
can for our public," Wysocki said.
The public information meetings will be from 7 to
9 p.m. on Jan. 15 and from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 18 at New
Berlin City Hall.