September 28, 2023

🔒 Waukesha’s new water supply has vital implications for companies

For about twenty years, Waukesha elected officers and metropolis workers have labored arduous to make sure that residents have a sustainable supply of water, and eventually, there may be gentle on the finish of the water tunnel as town prepares to modify over to Lake Michigan water in August.

For the previous few years, the venture was extremely seen as development crews laid miles of pipeline to and from Milwaukee County to carry water to Waukesha after which to return it to a Lake Michigan tributary as a part of the settlement town reached below the Nice Lakes Water Compact. 

It’s a transfer that turned essential after the Environmental Safety Company dominated that Waukesha wanted to discover a long-term sustainable water resolution after it was found that town’s deep aquifer was contaminated with radium, in addition to a declining quantity of water within the aquifer. Within the interim, town has been mixing water to supply protected and EPA-compliant water.

In March, the numerous milestone of elevating the booster pumping station close to Broadway and the Waukesha West Bypass was reached. Whereas all of those extremely seen milestones have been achieved, town has laid loads of groundwork behind the scenes because it helps space companies put together for the water change.

Companies huge and small will really feel the impression when handled Lake Michigan water runs via their faucets, together with meals producers, pet shops and hospitals. The main cause being that the Metropolis of Milwaukee treats its water in another way by utilizing chloramines versus Waukesha’s software of chlorine.

Mayor Shawn Reilly mentioned the Waukesha Water Utility has reached out to companies throughout town to verify they’re knowledgeable of what they should do to arrange. 

“The enterprise neighborhood has been an unlimited champion to get water from Lake Michigan. I feel that type of tells you that they acknowledged how vital it’s,” Reilly mentioned.

Corporations like Lifeway Meals Inc., which makes kefir merchandise, and Raised Grain Brewing Co., which brews beer, could possibly be impacted by the totally different chemical composition of the handled water from Lake Michigan. 

“Past comprising most of what’s within the beer glass, water’s distinctive chemistry has super results on the brewing course of and the flavour of the ensuing beverage,” mentioned Andrew Nordquist, inventive lead for Raised Grain. 

The brewery, which additionally has a taproom open to the general public in Waukesha, bought a reverse osmosis water-treatment methodology which removes impurities and minerals in water. 

“With an RO setup, Raised Grain can take no matter water, whether or not it’s Waukesha spring or Lake Michigan, strip it all the way down to nearly pure H2O, and construct it again as much as our actual specs. The RO water is a clean canvas able to be coloured by our brewers,” Nordquist mentioned.

Pet shops and pet homeowners shall be impacted as nicely by the water change, primarily those that promote and maintain fish aquariums and reptiles. Water will should be dechlorinated earlier than it’s offered to the animals. Even hospitals should be cognizant of the change with regards to the way it performs kidney dialysis. 

Metropolis workers will not be alone in conserving enterprise leaders knowledgeable. The Waukesha County Enterprise Alliance has labored with its members carefully through the course of and has overtly supported town buying Lake Michigan water. Suzanne Kelley, president and chief government officer of the alliance, mentioned there’s a “excessive stage of understanding” amongst metropolis companies because of intensive schooling through the course of a number of years. 

Kelley mentioned the Enterprise Alliance labored carefully with town to verify companies had the data and instruments they wanted to grasp how the water transition would have an effect on them and in the event that they wanted to change their operations in any respect. 

“We’ve been listening to from and speaking to Enterprise Alliance members all alongside. This has been an vital subject for us and now we have been educating members to grasp its significance,” Kelley mentioned, including that the Alliance was concerned at many ranges, from its coverage committee to its board of administrators. “The completion of this venture is an enormous win for the neighborhood.”

Ought to questions stay for enterprise homeowners, they need to attain out to the Waukesha Water Utility, which has consultants who can meet with companies and assist them navigate the change, mentioned Dan Duchniak, director of Waukesha Water Utility. 

What the transition will appear to be

Switching to Lake Michigan water gained’t be an instantaneous change. Duchniak mentioned the transition will take a couple of week to 10 days to finish as water storage and reservoirs are emptied after which refilled with new water from Milwaukee. Through the transition, Waukesha will improve the chlorine focus in its water so the chloramine in Milwaukee’s water doesn’t remove the chlorine within the metropolis’s water. 

He mentioned throughout this era individuals would possibly discover the odor of chlorine from their water, however it’s protected to drink. It additionally would possibly style a bit of totally different as a result of Waukesha’s water has the next mineral content material at present and Milwaukee’s water shall be softer, an attribute that Reilly mentioned will assist individuals’s home equipment like dishwashers and water heaters last more. 

Whereas water charges have elevated incrementally in Waukesha through the previous few years, the adjustments will not be over, with two extra important will increase deliberate for the top of 2023 to the beginning of 2024 and one other one on the finish of 2024 or starting of 2025 to account for development prices.

Even with the rise in the associated fee to make use of Waukesha’s water, for a lot of companies it’s a low value when in comparison with the remainder of the prices {that a} enterprise accrues, Reilly mentioned. 

“Usually, water is a really low value within the processes, and now we have labored with lots of the producers who use loads of water to cut back the consumption of water,” Reilly mentioned, including that in recent times firms have begun to recycle their water and reuse it. Through the use of much less water via these conservation strategies, firms gained’t really feel the rising value of a gallon of metropolis water. 

Ultimately, having a sustainable supply of water for the subsequent 100 to 200 years is a powerful promoting level for companies and residents to find in Waukesha, mentioned Reilly, particularly contemplating the water plight in different elements of the nation such because the Southwest. 

Primarily based on conversations with actual property brokers, Duchniak mentioned rising water payments for residence utilization will not be a deterrent for individuals eager to reside in Waukesha.

“The largest issue is a long-term water supply,” he mentioned, including {that a} household of 4 usually pays extra for cell telephones month-to-month than they do for sewer and water. 

Mike Ruzicka, president of the Larger Milwaukee Affiliation of Realtors, mentioned whereas having a sustainable supply of water is vital, it’s not one thing that’s of a lot concern for residence patrons and sellers. 

“Everybody thinks it has already been handled,” he mentioned, explaining that actual property brokers have been extra involved in regards to the course of about 15 years in the past, together with in the event that they would want to subject a disclosure in regards to the water when promoting a house.  

“On the finish of the day, it will likely be water and it’s clear,” Ruzicka mentioned. “It is a good instance of how the federal government did one thing proactive and did it nicely.”