Saturday, April 21, 2012

Waukesha Pitches Quick Start To Milwaukee Water Negotiations, And...

...Emphasizes to Milwaukee officials that the water sought is not for new development or growth, but Waukesha still wants, through an application for a Lake Michigan diversion, a volume of water up to an average 10.9 million gallons a day - - an amount that exceeds its current, falling usage by 50%.

The same message about jump-starting the two-city negotiations was transmitted to Milwaukee via the Waukesha Freeman, though I doubt a headline telling Milwaukee to "get crackin'" will win many friends in Milwaukee City Hall.

Anyway - - back to the data:

Take a look at these water usage numbers provided last August to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The city's water use declined for the fifth consecutive year in 2010 to an average daily demand of 6.69 million gallons a day, records show.

Actual demand was 1.21 million gallons a day less than the 2010 estimate included in the city's request for Great Lakes water...

Less future demand would reduce the volume of Lake Michigan water diverted to Waukesha, if the application is approved.

In May 2010, Waukesha asked Wisconsin to approve a request to purchase up to an average of 10.9 million gallons a day of Lake Michigan water. If the request is approved by Wisconsin and each of the other seven Great Lakes states, the city would abandon deep wells drawing radium-contaminated water from saturated sandstone.

The application projected water demand starting at an average of 7.9 million gallons a day in 2010, rising to 9.9 million gallons a day in 2030 and 10.9 million gallons a day at midcentury.

All of the city's future water use estimates, and the assumptions used to create them, will be scrutinized by the department in its review of the request, [Department of Natural Resources water official [Eric] Ebersberger said.

"We'll compare the 2010 projection of 7.9 million gallons a day to actual usage," he said. The basic assumptions - such as population growth, changes in land use, firefighting needs, water lost to main breaks - that built the 2010 estimate were used in setting future needs.


Anonymous said...

I say that with any water comes with a regional mass transit plan to include light rail.

Look- Waukesha has little regard for Milwaukee. The truth is: Giving water to Waukesha is a lose lose proposition for Mkwaukee.

Anonymous said...

Water consumption isn't down because of some feel-good do-little conservation effort like toilet rebates. Water usage is down because rates keep going up to pay for the consulting and PR being wasted by the Waukesha Water Utility. It's not their money and they don't care.
Do you think usage will increase. or decrease when water bills triple or quadruple. Further increases in rates will create revenue shortfalls to pay for the infrastructure resulting in further reductions in usage.
I don't know for sure, but is the actual daily demand the quantity measured by totalizing water meters, or, is it the production of the wells? Here's why: Waukesha, like Milwaukee, continues to replace it's ancient water delivery infrastructure. The 100 year old pipes leak like a sieve underground and water never makes it to the meters. It's very likely that a good portion of that water finds it way to broken sewer laterals underground which partially explains why the volume of effluent treated water is greater than the consumption.

Would anyone from the Waukesha Water Utility care to offer a comparison of well production vs. end user metering?

Anonymous said...

I should make a distinction between what the DNR is make assumptions for, "main breakage" and continous unknown pipe leakage.

SH said...

Waukesha is a concrete jungle with unbridled expansion of strip malls and roads. They need Milwaukee water- what will they give us?

Paul Furrer said...

Anonymous, To answer your question, the gallons per day are the pumped figures not the metered numbers (I'm not at the Water Utility- just a former Alderman). You're right that in addition to all of us finding out inner conservationist as water rates raise (rising regardless of which water source is chosen) but please don't forget that we have one of the most aggressive conservation plans in the state, the first to charge more as residents use more. Plus you are wrong about water leaks. The last survey (2010 I think) reported very good distribution in our 100 year old made in Waukesha pipes. We are on mark to replace about 10% per year. We haven't neglected our infrastructure. Infiltration (rain) into the treatment plant pipes continues to be a concern (that survey and fixes are ongoing) we do in fact treat more water than we pump. But that situation may be fortuitous because it creates a possible 100% return of water to Lake Michigan. Just contact the Utility they would be happy to go over your concerns.

Anonymous said...

Does an aggressive conservation plan really reduce rates for commercial / industrial?

Those industries in Waukesha get reduced rates the more water they use.

Oh, and $25 for a new toilet. Very aggressive! Has anyone in the city EVER been cited for lawn watering, or are you suggesting that nobody has ever broken the ordinance?

Let's be honest. It is a plan, but certainly not an aggressive one.

Anonymous said...

Paul Furrer,

About the water leaks - pumping figures - metered usage = leakage+ fire department usage (insignificant) + theft.
It would be really easy prove me wrong.
You may want to check with the utility about steel pipes used in residential neighborhoods for laterals in areas of Waukesha.
I'm not saying Waukesha neglected it's infrastructure. But the utility is not responsible for leaking laterals and since the home owner isn't billed for the water, why bother.
Fix the system first, then bring the actual needed, no other options than Lake Michigan, application for the current service area forward, not the city driven SEWRPC dream boundaries.
I'm sure 3 mayors are still waiting for responses to their questions.

Bill Sell said...

Long before Waukesha woke up to its water problems, there was another logjam - transportation. The ability of workers, customers, and businesses to collaborate on a regional basis, that might include Waukesha if Waukesha decides that it is part of Wisconsin again.

I will petition City officials to settle for nothing less than a regional transportation authority that includes the Waukesha County. This will harmonize access to each other's opportunities, which is how grown-up world-savvy regions behave. Living in a cocoon and telling the world you're thirsty is childish.

Max B said...

To Paul Furrer and Anonymous April 22, 3:20 PM:

The Waukesha Water Utility HAS neglected its infrastructure, admitted to by Dan Duchniak, publicly. Most water utilities are on a schedule to replace 1% of their infrastructure per year, which, I think we all can agree isn't very much. Waukesha is behind on its own goal of that 1%, due to (again: resource Duchniak) its pursuit of the Lake Michigan diversion. In other words, they diverted money from infrastructure maintenance to things like paying a PR firm $10,000 - $13,000 a month for the last 5-6 years just to sell the Lake Michigan diversion. This of course doesn't include the enormous legal fees paid to multiple law firms or the ginormous engineering costs (again, paid to multipiple engineering firms) to constantly "study" the problem and yet always arrive at the same conclusion: we must have Lake Michigan water!

And to Paul: you're sincere, but sadly misled by all of the PR coming out of the water utility. Why should any one trust them to answer a question with anything other than a spin on the same old crap they've been saying for years? This is asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Of course, they're happy to answer your questions, one at a time, over the phone or in person where there is no record of what they tell you, so that each questioner gets an answer tailored to soothe his or her concerns and they can tamp down opposition quietly.

"The most aggressive conservation plan in the state" is just one example: the Water Utility spent hundreds of thousands of dollars--if not millions--on developing their conservation plan, which is more of a plan to make a plan, a smorgasbord of ideas that might be implemented some day. The only parts that have been implemented are the every-other-day sprinkling ordinance with enough exceptions to drive a water tanker through (and little to no enforcement as noted by Anonymous above) and the inclining rate structure which seems to be a cover for the 18% rate increase foisted upon residential ONLY ratepayers in 2007 and another 16& rate increase in 2009. Neither of these rate increases included the rate increases currently applied for to the PSC which are 25% per year for 5 years--just to get the project going and to "catch up on infrastructure maintenance" --hmmmm. . . where have we heard of that before?

When are the tax-and rate-payers of the City of Waukesha going to wake up to this expensive boondoggle and just say no?

Riverkeeper said...

Max B just said what I wanted to say much more eloquently! With all due respect Paul, Waukesha has a goal of fixing (and not necessarily replacing) 1% of their infrastructure per year and they are not meeting that goal (nor are the vast majority of other municipalities to be fair). Your figure that they are replacing 10% is not true, and as Max points out, there is still a lot more that could be done on the conservation front--although its good to have a plan for a plan--I'm not sure that justifies the large size of the requested diversion nore the money, energy, water-rate increases, and environmental damage from constructing miles and miles of essentially a large "straw" to suck water out of Lake Michigan.

Paul Furrer said...

Well I stand corrected. 1% or even less, but I also stand by the review that placed us with good marks when it comes to leaks. Also true that the story hasn't changed - we need water and are willing to buy it under the Compact rules. Anonymous, as far as lawn sprinkling bans and $25 toilet replacement money that is an aggressive conservation plan for this part of the world. Leaky laterals metered or not cost us all but I'll compare Waukesha's leaks to Milwaukee's any day.

Max B said...

It may be true that the utility's story hasn't changed, but the contention that Waukesha needs water has not yet been proven,** and there are many who doubt its truth, given the overstatement of need and lack of transparency. It doesn't help that so many of the individuals pushing for the expensive LM diversion plan aren't even from Waukesha--the city or the service area--and thus will not be around to suffer the financial consequences of their reckless leadership.

Paul, think of all the "information" you have on this subject? Where did it come from? Has any of it been independently corroborated by a third party? All you know is 'bought information' from parties who have a financial or egotistical interest in a diversion outcome. Sad to say.

Paul Furrer said...

Max, You sound like our Mayor who's middle name is transparency. I know I don't want to pay twice on this radium fix and if we have to filter all our deep wells and drill more shallow ones I figure in about twenty years we'll be right back here asking for someone to sell us Lake Michigan water. Give me a call well have coffee.

Max B said...

Paul, you forget that the purpose of government is to serve people, not work against them. Being elected to a minor post such as alderman, or mayor or even, say, governor, doesn't give you a mandate to do whatever the hell you want, behind closed doors and with other peoples' money. You also forget that 'transparency' was promised repeatedly by Mayor Larry, who proceeded to do his business behind closed doors anyway. That's called lip service.

Your offer of coffee is polite, but I can see you already drank the koolaid.

Anonymous said...


"Leaky laterals metered or not cost us all but I'll compare Waukesha's leaks to Milwaukee's any day."

If Waukesha can't replace more that 1% per year due to cost, how much will be replaced when water quadruples and Waukesha is required fund, subsidize, and maintain a regional transportation system?