Disagreements about the City of Waukesha’s future water service area with the Town of Waukesha is becoming a problem for the School District of Waukesha.
The future water service, which was designated by the Southeastern Regional Planning Commission, included portions of the Town of Waukesha. While the water service area would allow certain town properties to obtain Lake Michigan water if the city is successful in its diversion request through the Great Lakes Compact, the town has opted to exclude all properties south of the Highway 59 area.
But the School District of Waukesha has a $1.4 million property that is located outside of the revised future water service area – and the district wants to use municipal water and sewer at the property if the land is developed into an elementary and middle school.
A letter approved Wednesday night by the Waukesha School Board states the Town of Waukesha’s decision will cause “irreparable harm”:
“Modern educational facilities require municipal water. Fire protection systems, potable water supplies, and special uses of water for athletic or other educational purposes should be supplied by a municipal water system. The absence of municipal water will at best severely restrict and most likely will eliminate the School District’s ability to construct future modern school facilities that serve its residents, including those of the Town of Waukesha.
“Decisions about whether or not areas should be included in a water supply service area should be based on factual information related to future land use (Waukesha Co Land Use Plan), ground water contamination issues, soil types, septic system failures and ground water hydrology to name a few. We have seen no evidence of these considerations in your Town Board’s request to remove our School District’s properties from the existing water service area. In fact it ignores all previous analysis and due process conducted by SEWRPC and DNR that, for decades, included our properties and virtually all the Town of Waukesha in the water and sewer service area.”
Town of Waukesha Chairwoman Angie Van Scyoc said in a text message to Waukesha Patch that the school district's letter will be discussed during the Town Board meeting Thursday night (Feb. 14).
Meanwhile, the town and the city are in a disagreement about the amount of water that could be provided to the town. While original proposals called for 1.42 million gallons of water per day to be provided to the town, the city no longer wants to provide a large amount of water to two properties because the majority of the town properties were cut from the service area.
The town is requesting .55 million gallons of water a day, a request that City Administrator Ed Henschel described as “inappropriate and excessive for the amount of land included.”
“The utility does not at this point know what the amounts for the portions of the town identified in your Jan. 24 motion would be,” wrote Henschel. “We had not done such a calculation because the town had never indicated it was considering inclusion of only portions of the town during the two years that we have been discussing this issue.
“The determination of the appropriate volumes for the areas you have now identified would need to be made by our consultants in the same manner that the town-wide calculations were calculated, which reflects populations projections based on land use for those parcels. Allocations will be examined by the DNR as part its review of our application. Because the analysis and DNR review have not occurred, inclusion of a volume of water in the Town motion is not appropriate. The allocation is required to be appropriate for the land uses and population projections for the areas.”
A letter from Van Scyoc indicates the town is unclear about what action it needs to take, stating that she needs more information to bring a request forward. The city responded to her request Wednesday.
“If the city is now saying the reduced amount of .55 MGD is not correct we need to have the basis on which these numbers are being determined to fully understand the reasoning, especially with such wide ranging changes, in order to intelligently discuss any new amount that is being proposed,” Van Scyoc wrote.
If the city is now saying the reduced amount of .55 MGD is not correct we need to have
The request from the town could put the city’s application to divert Great Lakes water past the Subcontinental Divide at risk because of the amount of water requested, Henschel wrote in a letter to the town.
The city is asking the town to reconsider its decision by making a request that the land in the revised service area be provided water without stating a specific amount or simply completely opting out or opting in to the city’s original future water service area map.
“After two years of waiting for a decision, we cannot begin negotiations of new or different terms,” Henschel wrote to the town. “We have come to the point in the application process where we cannot be delayed any longer. The town must make a decision on the alternatives that were negotiated.”
Waukesha is planning a $183 million pipeline to Oak Creek to address problems with its declining water quality and water supply.
The Waukesha Water Utility spent a year-and-a-half in negotiations with Oak Creek and Racine over getting Lake Michigan water. Waukesha still faces a long climb to get Lake Michigan water, including gaining approval from all Great Lakes states. The application remains pending with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources after nearly three years.
Waukesha is outside of the Great Lakes Basin but is in a community within a county that straddles the Great Lakes Basin, which requires Waukesha to return Lake Michigan water to the Great Lakes. It also requires approval by all Great Lakes states under the terms of the Great Lakes Compact.
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.