Waukesha taps Greeley and Hansen for Lake Michigan water supply project

Chicago-based firm to oversee permitting, design and construction

Waukesha’s Great Lakes diversion calls for the city to clean the water and return it via the Root River.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:20 pm

The Waukesha Water Utility Commission selected Chicago-based Greeley and Hansen as program manager for its project to switch to a Lake Michigan water supply.

Waukesha’s Great Lakes diversion calls for the city to clean the water and return it via the Root River.
Waukesha’s Great Lakes diversion calls for the city to clean the water and return it via the Root River.

The firm will manage the permitting, design and construction of pipelines to bring water from Oak Creek to Waukesha and then return treated wastewater via the root river. Greeley and Hansen will also be responsible for route studies, land and easement acquisitions, public outreach and overseeing subconsultants.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said the selection was a “major milestone” in the city’s process toward getting Lake Michigan water. The Great Lakes Compact Council approved Waukesha’s diversion request in June, allowing the city to withdraw an average of up to 8.2 million gallons of water per day. Diversions outside of the Great Lakes basin are banned under the 2008 Great Lakes Compact, although there is an exception for communities in counties that straddle the basin.

Waukesha is under a court order to bring its drinking water within EPA radium standards. Reilly said the $206 million project to bring water from Oak Creek to Waukesha will take about five years to design, permit and build.

“With a project of this size, we need to make sure we have the best experts available to make sure that the project is done right and the money is spent wisely,” he said.

The Waukesha Water Utility also considered proposals from Kansas City-based Black & Veatch and Boston-based CDM Smith. The utility’s press release announcing the decision noted Greeley and Hansen’s expertise in water and wastewater engineering and that the commission wanted a firm with experience on large construction projects.

The commission voted to have Greeley and Hansen proceed with work on the project and to have utility staff negotiate a final contract.

Colorado-based CH2M will serve as a subconsultant on the project, bringing expertise on permitting, transitioning to a new water supply and public outreach. CH2M was the lead engineer for the city during the development and review of Waukesha’s Great Lakes application.

Waukesha has also retained the construction contract compliance division of Chicago-based Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP to monitor costs on the project.

While the Compact Council approved the diversion in June, the prospect of legal challenges remains. The Great Lakes Cities Initiative requested a hearing to challenge the decision in August. In September the organization sent the council a letter asking it to suspend the final decision pending further review and noted it reserves the right to challenge the decision in court.

The Compact Council is in the process of reviewing the initiative’s request before determining the next steps, said Peter Johnson, Compact Council secretariat staff.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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