Waukesha's Water Woes Could Spur Water Service To I-94 In Caledonia
Waukesha is actively negotiating with Racine, Oak Creek and Milwaukee to get water from Lake Michigan. However, their discussions with Racine are further along than Oak Creek and Milwaukee.
If the Waukesha Utility District brokers a deal with the Racine to bring water from Lake Michigan to Waukesha, the financial impact could positively impact Caledonia water customers.
Village officials called a meeting with officials with the Waukesha Water Utility, the City of Racine, and the Racine Water and Waste Water Utility on Thursday to clarify several issues.
The benefit to Caledonia, said Keith Haas, general manager of the Racine Water and Wastewater Utility, is that residents receiving water from the City of Racine could see a drop of 15 to 20 percent on their water bills.
Village officials are also anxious to draft their own water service agreement with the City of Racine.
Having both agreements in place, Caledonia residents receiving water from the City of Racine would likely see a reduction on their water bills, but the agreements would also jumpstart projects that would extend water along Interstate 94. Development along the Interstate has been hampered for years because property owners have to rely on wells to get their water.
“For us (Caledonia) it would be an investment,” said Kevin Wanggaard, a Village Board member.
For Waukesha, the project would fix an impending water shortage and water quality issue.
Dan Duchniak, general manager for the Waukesha Water Utility, explained that Waukesha’s deep groundwater levels are declining and capacity is decreasing.
“We need people to know that this isn’t for growth. This is about public health. Right now we’re drinking contaminated water,” Duchniak said.
Duchniak explained that Waukesha is actively negotiating with Racine, Oak Creek and Milwaukee. However, their discussions with Racine are further along than Oak Creek and Milwaukee.
“It’s just the nature of the beast,” Duchniak said. “When you are trying to negotiate a water deal and there’s three different communities involved, it’s not that we’re trying to pit anyone against one another...There are pluses and minuses for each community.”
Still, Waukesha is working with Racine to reduce the $312 million price tag, one of the ways they’d like to reduce the cost by hooking up to Racine’s water supply via Caledonia and bringing water out to Interstate 94.
If the deal goes through, Duchniak said he thinks this could give Racine and Caledonia a leg up with other communities looking to buy water.
After the meeting, Bob Bradley, chairman for the Caledonia Utility District, explained that if the deal went through they would look at bringing water out to Interstate 94, but Caledonia still needs to craft it’s own water service agreement with Racine.
“We just starting to negotiate with Racine,” Bradley said. “But if this goes through, it’s going to be very excited for the Village.”