Milwaukee Business Journal
Jun 27, 2017, 5:30pm CDT Updated Jun 28, 2017, 5:45am CDT
By Sean Ryan

Waukesha seeks input on water pipelines through Franklin, Muskego, New Berlin

Waukesha is reaching out to three neighboring communities where it plans a three-year infrastructure project to install pipelines under streets to carry water to and from Lake Michigan.

The city is holding hearings this week in Franklin, Muskego and New Berlin, where its proposed pipelines would run. The Waukesha Water Utility outlined three alternatives, one of which would avoid the city of New Berlin by keeping more of the route within Muskego.

The pipelines would be built underground, and would largely follow existing roads or utility rights-of-way. That means parts of roadways could be torn up and rebuilt after pipes are installed, so the routes are designed to avoid recently reconstructed streets.

Dan Duchniak, Waukesha Water Utility general manager, said there will be a “minimal” amount of private property the utility would acquire or obtain utility easements on.

“Our goal would be within the right-of-way itself,” he said. “We understand there’s going to be more of an inconvenience because there may be some disruption as construction goes through.”

One underground line with an about 36-inch diameter would carry water from the city of Oak Creek, which would sell the Lake Michigan water to Waukesha. A return pipeline would take clean water from Waukesha’s treatment plant, and deposit it in the Root River near 60th Street and West Oakwood Road in Franklin.

The pipeline project is an integral part of Waukesha’s plan to switch its drinking water source from underground wells to Lake Michigan water. The city’s current water source contains radium that is above federal safety levels. Construction on the estimated $250 million to $300 million project could start in early 2020, for completion in 2023.

Waukesha officials are holding open houses this week to get public feedback on the alternatives. The first open house is scheduled Tuesday evening in Franklin, followed by another Wednesday in Muskego, and one on Thursday in New Berlin. The projects will require permits from the state Department of Natural Resources.

“We’ve been meeting with the leaders of our partner communities and want those who reside or do business in those communities to know more about our proposed plans for constructing these pipelines and how they may affect them,” said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly.

All three pipeline alternatives have the same starting and ending points. The eastern end is near 60th and Oakwood Road in Franklin. Duchniak said the utility has not done construction cost estimates on the three alternatives, but does not anticipate substantial differences.

The routes are identical through the city of Franklin, where they would run north on 60th Street to connect with Ryan Road. The lines would follow Ryan Road west to Cape Road, just north of 124th Street and Loomis Road.

The alternatives arise in Muskego and New Berlin. One alternative would avoid the city of New Berlin entirely, running mostly through Muskego. That route would connect from Cape Road to Durham Drive, turn west through a We Energies right-of-way that passes by Muskego Lake, and then north along Racine Avenue to Tans Drive.

The alternatives that pass into New Berlin would follow Durham Drive farther north, past the point where it crosses Woods Road and becomes Moorland Road. One alternative would run the pipeline west on Interstate 43 from Moorland, and then follow the Racine Avenue right-of-way through the remainder of New Berlin.

The other would pass from Moorland Road to Calhoun Road near I-43, and then jog west onto Lawnsdale Road before linking to Racine Avenue.