Feb 9, 2018
West Allis — Next week, the Waukesha Water Utility will host three open houses in communities to the east that will be affected by the construction of its Lake Michigan water line.
The West Allis, New Berlin and Greenfield mayors say they were notified that Waukesha’s lake water would flow through their borders when Milwaukee was tapped as the supplier in late October, and they must now help residents understand what the impacts of pipeline construction will be in the coming years.
“We found out about the (Milwaukee) agreement at roughly the same time the public did, or shortly thereafter,” said Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke. “As the subject matter came out it was pretty clear that in order for Milwaukee water to get to Waukesha the supply would have to come through the city of Greenfield.”
Neitzke said the impact on city streets in Greenfield concern him and his residents, but overall he welcomes the pipeline and said the mayors and water utilities in Waukesha and Milwaukee have been helpful and forthcoming in the process so far.
The Waukesha Water Utility’s aim for the open houses next week is to gather feedback on the different route options from residents in Greenfield, West Allis and New Berlin who could be affected by easements, right-of-ways or road construction when the pipeline is laid out in about two years.
Mayors in those communities asked Waukesha to hold the public meetings so residents would have the chance to bring forward concerns they might have and ask questions about the impacts of the different routes, said New Berlin Mayor Dave Ament.
“We want to let people know in the areas along the route where this could possibly be and alert them that this might be coming through their property,” Ament said. “They can come here and ask questions and give their opinions; this may require easements on some properties.”
New Berlin is slated to have two of Waukesha’s pipelines running through the city — one for intake and another for treated wastewater. Because the wastewater is headed south to the Root River, the pipelines will have to use different routes on separate sides of the community, Ament said.
“I encouraged (Waukesha) to have this meeting while they are in the beginning stages. We do that kind of thing here a lot,” Ament said. “Why spend all that money on the engineering and planning of a certain route when it’s going to make people mad?”
Ament said his role in this process is to keep residents informed, especially those who live along one of the six proposed routes in New Berlin, a few of which would tear up roads or use easements to run through family-owned farm land.
“The more upfront we are as governments the less chance that, even if someone isn’t happy with what’s going on, they at least won’t be surprised when there’s construction equipment in their back yard,” he said.
West Allis Mayor Dan Devine said the city has tried to get the word out to residents about the open house next week through social media and email, but he fears it won’t be enough to inform everyone.
“I wish more people knew about it,” he said. “We tried to get the word out because people are going to start asking questions when the roads get torn up.”
Devine said West Allis residents are exhausted with road construction after the Milwaukee Zoo Interchange redevelopment and other city projects, and if Waukesha chooses to tear up more roads it could be hard for the city to swallow.
“(The project) has got the potential to cause some headaches for people and businesses in the area,” he said.
The Waukesha Water Utility and the Great Water Alliance public relations group will be at the West Allis Public Library at 7421 W. National Ave. from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, at the Greenfield Public Library at 5310 W. Layton Ave. from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and at New Berlin City Hall at 3805 S. Casper Drive from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.