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Oak Creek, Waukesha Near Lake Michigan Water Deal

The Oak Creek Common Council and Water Utility Commission are scheduled to vote on the contract Tuesday.

Waukesha is closing in on an agreement with Oak Creek to provide Lake Michigan water.

The Oak Creek Common Council and Water Utility Commission will each vote on the contract Tuesday. Terms were not immediately known.

Waukesha still faces a long climb to get Lake Michigan water, including approval from all Great Lakes states. But the votes Tuesday represent a significant step. Waukesha spent a year and a half in negotiations with Oak Creek and Racine. City officials also wanted to negotiate with their preferred supplier, Milwaukee, but discussions never happened.

The Waukesha Water Utility and the Waukesha Common Council met in closed sesssion earlier this month to discuss the water sales contract, but information was not made public after that meeting.

The Oak Creek Water and Sewer Utility has said providing Waukesha with Lake Michigan water could result in a rate reduction of as much as 25 percent for Oak Creek residents.

Waukesha is forced to either treat or replace its water supply by 2018 because radium levels have put the city's water supply out of legal compliance. The city's wells also face problems with declining water quality due to arsenic and saltwater and with a limited groundwater supply.

Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak has said all water supply alternatives exist outside the city limits, and that of all the possibilities, diverting water from Lake Michigan is the most cost-effective solution.

Steve Edlund September 29, 2012 at 11:40 AM
What's the most cost effective solution to comply with the 2018 court order? There is no mandate to address any other issue related to a city water supply. If arsenic ans saltwater are a problem now, why is my water utility sending out statements that we meet federal and state water quality compliance? If quantity of future water supplies is a concern of the water utility why isn't there consideration of the 2 week old USGS scientific modeling study performed showing 27 riparian wells on a 10 mile stretch of the Fox River alluvium will produce 9 million gallons per day through riverbank inducement with minimal environmental impact. http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2012/5108/ The utility was cooperating with the independent organizations conducting the modeling research and the funding didn't come from the water utilities budget and therefore would be unbiased. If the Oak Creek customers will save 25% on their bills, why would I want to continue to live in Waukesha where city citizens already pay the highest property taxes in the county and property values will continue to decline because the cost of living here with a Lake Michigan water supply will be much greater than other similar communities?
Steve Edlund September 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Now for the sinister and dirty actions of both governmental bodies: If Oak Creek has a negotiated MOU with Waukesha in hand and both communities are simultaneously conducting closed sessions at the same time to discuss the MOU, how will the public have time to scrutinize the document and be able to contact their elected official if the vote, in Oak Creeks case Resolution 11288-100212, takes place right after the governmental bodies reconvene in open session? If neither community is bargaining because the bargaining by the respective subcommittees has concluded, there is no longer a competitive reason for a closed session. Both governmental bodies and all their elected officials had better be on the phone with their city's attorney prior to their vote to go into closed session. The public has the greatest right to the most information about what it's government is doing. Closed door exemption 19.85(1)(e) is very narrowly construed by the courts.
James Wigderson September 29, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Steve's afraid that Oak Creek is going to invade and impurify our precious bodily fluids. Okay, Steve, would you rather buy from Milwaukee?
Steve Edlund September 30, 2012 at 12:57 AM
If you want Lake Michigan water James, move back to Milwaukee or maybe Oak Creek rather than pushing to deflating real estate values in Waukesha. I guess you want government to fix all your problems for you.
Rick Tortomasi October 01, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I believe that Steve just will not accept the fact that we cannot keep drawing water from our ground aquafer forever. The current shallow wells along the river can not be pumped every day because they draw down the water level so fast they have to be turned off every 2-3 days to let the water level regenerate. The more wells placed along the river the faster this water level will drop. This would only be a short term solution and a costly one at that. In future years you will be looking for another water source again.

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