Looking Back on 2018

The Great Water Alliance (GWA) program is nearing completion of another year, taking significant steps towards delivering a sustainable alternative to the City of Waukesha’s existing water supply. Let’s look back over this busy year.

Milwaukee Chosen as Lake Michigan Water Source

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signed an agreement for the City of Milwaukee to act as the Lake Michigan water source for the City of Waukesha’s new water supply program. These two Wisconsin mayors, fostering regional cooperation, collaborated to establish cost efficiencies for both cities, while ensuring thousands of residents and businesses receive the highest quality of water.

Pipeline Route Options Discussed at Open Houses

In order to keep the community informed and to gather public comments, GWA held several open houses around southeastern Wisconsin. A popular topic among attendees was the three pipeline route options. Discussions touched upon a number of factors that affect the final decision as to which routes the pipeline will take to supply Great Lakes water to Waukesha and return treated water to Lake Michigan via the Root River. The Great Water Alliance’s environmental consultants, engineers, and utility operators have carefully evaluated several potential approaches.

Route One Identified as Preferred Route

After months of open houses, calls to the hotline, and emails from residents, the voices of the communities potentially impacted by the Great Water Alliance project were heard and a preferred water supply pipeline route was identified. GWA has begun further investigations along the preferred supply pipeline route. Property owners along Route 1 were notified that program representatives are conducting various field investigations and surveying the area. This data is needed to determine a final pipeline route.

GWA Program and Leadership Receive Public Recognition

City of Waukesha Recognized by the Wisconsin Policy Forum

In June, the Wisconsin Policy Forum awarded the City of Waukesha and the City of Milwaukee the Intergovernmental Cooperation Award.

Dan Duchniak Awarded Advocate of the Year

Waukesha Business Alliance awarded Dan Duchniak, General Manager of Waukesha Water Utility, the Advocate of the Year.

New Water Utility Bill with Return Flow Charge

City of Waukesha customers are currently dependent on a water supply from a groundwater aquifer that is depleted and contaminated, so the GWA program will deliver a sustainable alternative. To begin paying for the costs of building the new infrastructure, WWU customers received a new water utility bill with a return flow charge. The cost of the new supply will add about $50 per month in costs for the average household by 2027. However, even with other increases for regular operations and maintenance, it is expected the total water bills to be comparable to many other area communities.

Quality Water Testing Begins

The City of Waukesha is actively preparing for a smooth transition to Lake Michigan water that will implement a new water supply and establish the delivery of clean, safe drinking water to customers. Water testing is a key component and has already begun with pipe loop testing. This process analyzes how different water (groundwater versus lake water) reacts with pipe materials. Water testing, on many levels, will continue to be a priority as the Great Water Alliance works toward construction and delivery of water. And, it will continue after the new infrastructure is installed and running.

WWU Approved to Borrow WIFIA Funds

The solution to provide City of Waukesha residents with quality, clean drinking water requires an investment to needed infrastructure and improvements. However, the City is working with experts and partners to seek funding, reduce costs where possible, and minimize impacts to ratepayers. To this end, Waukesha Water Utility applied for and was approved to borrow a $116 million low-cost Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to reduce borrowing expenses.