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Oak Creek, Waukesha Water Plan Moves Forward

Both Oak Creek and Waukesha councils approve the first step in providing water to Waukesha.

Oak Creek residents could see their water bills drop by 25 percent under an initial proposal for a Lake Michigan water sale between Oak Creek and Waukesha.

Tuesday night, the Oak Creek Common Council approved a resolution authorizing a letter of intent to supply water to the City of Waukesha.

The letter of intent expresses a willingness to supply water to Waukesha but does not create a commitment, according Oak Creek Water and Sewer Utility General Manager Steven Yttri. The letter also outlines the general parameters necessary for an agreement.

Waukesha’s Common Council also approved proceeding with a letter of intent.

Oak Creek will make sufficient treatment plant capacity available to meet Waukesha's drinking water supply needs, according to the preliminary plans outlined in a news release from the Waukesha Water Utility.

Waukesha will be responsible for the transmission of the water from the border of Oak Creek to Waukesha and for the return of the water back to the Great Lakes basin, as required by the Great Lakes Compact.

Infrastructure upgrades are estimated to cost Oak Creek nearly $20 million, according to Oak Creek's analysis.

However, the proposed sale of water will benefit homeowners and businesses in Oak Creek, Franklin and Caledonia with a reduction in rates that are projected to be as much as 25 percent for retail customers. In addition, the City of Oak Creek will receive initial payments of $300,000 per year in lieu of taxes from the Oak Creek Water and Sewer Utility, payments that are projected to reach $1.2 million per year by 2030.

The city will benefit because the additional sales of water will provide increased production efficiencies due to economies of scale, according to the city's analysis. As a result, retail water rates are expected to drop by as much as 25 percent.

Oak Creek resident Mark Verhalen said he opposed the sale of Oak Creek water to Waukesha because the city should be focus on providing water for its residents, business and future developments.

Verhalen, president of the Oak Creek Citizen's Action Committee, asked that a letter detailing his opposition be read into the record.

“Long-term, this has the potential to cost the residents of Oak Creek a lot of money,” Verhalen said. “And it’s, in a sense, helping the competition.”

The water pipeline project to and from Oak Creek will cost Waukesha $183 million to build, according to the Waukesha Water Utility.

The final contract between Waukesha and Oak Creek will not be approved until Waukesha receives approval under the Great Lakes Compact, which needs to come from top governmental officials from Great Lakes states.

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.

Scott October 03, 2012 at 08:55 AM
My water bill just went up this last quarter. Must have been part of the planned decrease in rates.
Mike in OC October 03, 2012 at 12:21 PM
i wish they would have put clauses in the agreement to hire a % of businesses from Oak Creek to be used in building the pipeline too....
oak creek resident October 03, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Verhalen is a small minded individual, on par with Tom Barret and the others who are afraid that helping waukesha will "hurt them". Such petty foolishness, it really shows their lack of self worth.
vocal local 1 October 04, 2012 at 07:29 AM
At times its best to be small-minded rather than mindless as OC resident's comments evidence. An OC Grad as evidenced by the inability to do math and attempts to ridicule Verhalen the only person who spoke against this ill-fated plan. This article tells all that the project is going to cost OC 20 million which is a down right lie as expansion debt and costs are going to be much greater as we are forced to expand again and again on the back of the taxpayer. It infers OC residents may gain a 25% decrease in their water bills. WHEN? Forty-five years down the line after the OC water utility pays off construction debt and interest at a half mil per year? Folks this is not a good deal economically or environmentally. How much pollution can Lake Michigan absorb before we destroy the lake? Perhaps the Asian Carp will clean up the sludge released by the sanitation overload releases into the lake and God forbid the feds pass a Mercury law and jack up the current price of water treatment. Could someone please ID the salts that will also be returned to the lake from Waukesha? Is it any wonder the world is in an Armageddon financial crisis when a free country such as the dying USA created as a government of the people by the people allows and promotes small town local political leaders to run cities as for profit business enterprises without regard to our children’s children? VOTE ROMNEY, we need to continue to wipe out the arrogant middle class and their inane thinking process.

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