Waukesha Water Rates Will Increase 27%
Wisconsin Public Service Commission approves Waukesha Water Utility's rate increase request as the city looks toward developing a new water supply.
Waukesha Water Utility will soon see the financial effects of the city’s search for a new water supply. The Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved this week a 27 percent water rate increase.
The rate increase was done in preparation for the water utility’s borrowing needs as it looks to develop a new water supply to meet a June 2018 deadline. The water increase is the first of a series of four or five water rate increases around 25 percent as the city’s looking at spending millions to address the decline in water quantity and quality.
“This is the first of those increases,” said Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak.
Waukesha requested a rate increase of $2.2 million – 25 percent – in December 2011. The Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved a rate increase of 27 percent, which is about $2.3 million.
The Waukesha Water Utility has said for years that the project is likely to double local water bills. The water increase is applicable to the water portion of the bill and does not include the sewer portion of the bill.
The water utility needs to raise the rates in order to demonstrate to lenders that the water utility will be able to pay off the money it will borrow during the upcoming years to fund projects to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s mandated radium levels, according to the discussion at a November 2011 utility meet.
The Waukesha Common Council agreed two years ago to apply for Great Lakes water as its primary option to reduce the radium levels. The city needs approvals first from the DNR and the Wisconsin governor. Then the application advances to all the Great Lakes states, which have to also approve the application because Waukesha is located just outside the Great Lakes basin.
The city's application to divert the water from Lake Michigan is currently pending with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Waukesha is looking to pipe water from Lake Michigan; it also plans to return the water to the Great Lakes. Waukesha originally planned to negotiate a water sales agreement with Milwaukee, Oak Creek or Racine, but talks with Milwaukee broke down last week. Oak Creek and Racine are still negotiating with Waukesha and a water sale proposal could be finalized in August.