Waukesha keeps options open for water from Oak Creek

Discussions about the possibility of Oak Creek providing drinking water from Lake Michigan to Waukesha are continuing between officials from both of the cities.

Waukesha Water Utility general manager Dan Duchniak recently gave the Oak Creek Common Council some background in a presentation about the city’s quest for water from Lake Michigan.

Newly elected Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi said he invited Duchniak to speak so aldermen could hear straight from Waukesha, rather than relying on media reports.

Duchniak said Waukesha’s cheapest option to gain access to water from Lake Michigan would be to get it from the city of Milwaukee, but Waukesha wants to keep its options open.

Waukesha needs to either invest in expensive equipment to purify its dwindling water table, which is contaminated with radium, or find a way to pipe in clean water from another source.

By improving the infrastructure in Oak Creek and Franklin – instead of building a new pipe to the Oak Creek treatment plant – the cost of getting Lake Michigan water from Oak Creek would be closer to the estimated $164 million project in Milwaukee, Duchniak said.

A successful negotiation could pay off for Oak Creek residents. With current projections, Oak Creek’s water rates could decline by 25 percent if the city lands the contract with Waukesha, utility engineer Mike Sullivan said, according to OakCreekPatch.com.

Because Waukesha is just on the other side of the Subcontinental Divide, which naturally returns water to the lake, it must receive the go-ahead from each of the Great Lakes states before moving forward with the project. Waukesha expects to receive that decision by the end of the year.

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