City of Waukesha: Officials meet with Oak Creek and Racine to discuss possible purchase of Great Lakes water

CONTACT: Steve Crandell

Acting City Administrator

262-524-3701

[email protected]

The City of Waukesha today kicked off their effort to negotiate an agreement with a potential water supplier by meeting with city officials in Oak Creek and Racine.

“Our meetings with officials in Oak Creek and Racine went well today,” said Acting City Administrator Steve Crandell. “We provided information about our water needs and our timetables and discussed issues related to the process.”

“Both Oak Creek and Racine officials are interested in exploring the possibility of providing our citizens with water, and they understand that there are significant potential benefits to their communities,” he added. “The meetings were productive and we are looking forward to continuing our discussions with both parties very soon.”

Mayor Jeff Scrima and Common Council President Paul Ybarra accompanied Waukesha’s negotiators to the first meeting as a goodwill gesture. The city’s negotiators are Crandell and Dan Duchniak, the general manager of the water utility. Additional members can be added, if needed.

Crandell said meetings have not yet been scheduled with officials from Milwaukee, the third potential supplier of Lake Michigan water. “Milwaukee’s Common Council must take action to authorize the preparation of various reports that a local ordinance requires for negotiations to occur. We’ve begun preparing the necessary data for them and are hopeful that they will take that action in September,” he said.

Waukesha’s application to switch from groundwater to Lake Michigan water is currently being reviewed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Because Waukesha is just outside the Great Lakes basin, its application must also meet the requirements of the Great Lakes Compact, including return of the water to the lake after use and the approval of the Great Lakes governors. Waukesha’s current water supply has dropped more than 500 feet and water quality is worsening. It also faces a 2018 deadline for providing water that meets federal standards for radium, a carcinogenic contaminant in its water.

Crandell said he could not provide further details about the meetings with Oak Creek and Racine. “This is a competitive process. Our goal is to get the best deal possible. In order to protect the interests of our ratepayers, it is important to keep significant details confidential at this time. The potential suppliers are experienced negotiators. They understand and agree with the need for proprietary information to be protected.”

However, Crandell emphasized that the final decision is not up to Waukesha’s negotiators. “We are going to work to assemble the best deal possible but any proposed agreement that we negotiate will require approval by the Waukesha Common Council and Mayor,” he said.