Public Service Commission still wants assurances protective measures at old well will remain in use
The Village of Saukville’s plans to construct a new water system well cleared a key hurdle with the state’s Public Service Commission.
Still, some complicated loose ends need to be tied up before construction of the village’s sixth municipal well can begin.
The PSC has ruled the village has justified the need for the new well and pumping station, which is expected to cost more than $2 million.
The only condition the commission put on the well project is that the village water utility get documented assurances that a groundwater remediation system for Well No. 1 will be maintained.
The well has been shown to be susceptible to contamination, and remediation measures were put into place under a plan filed with the Environmental Protection Agency in 1987.
The contamination was linked to a nearby plant previously occupied by Freeman Chemical, then Cook Composites & Polymers, and now Arkema.
According to the PSC report, “Well No. 1 depends on a groundwater remediation system to prevent it from being contaminated with chemicals present in the groundwater. The remediation system consists of a separate well that must be pumped continuously to draw the groundwater with chemicals away from Well No. 1.”
Without some sort of contract on file, the PSC said it “is concerned about the continued operation and maintenance of the remediation system should the factory cease operation.”
The PSC gave the village 60 days to secure the required documentation.
Water Utility Supt. Dale Kropidlowski told the Village Board last week he is certain the required assurances from the chemical company can be obtained, but the process is complicated because Arkema is a spin-off of the French gas company Total.
“After a year of work by the utility staff, this is the final hurdle that must be cleared,” Kropidlowski said of the approval process.
Village officials were confident they can obtain the required documentation from Total, but it may not arrive in time for the scheduled general-obligation bond sale at the Tuesday, March 17, Village Board meeting.
“They assure us it will get done and won’t become the responsibility of the utility,” Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said of preliminary talks with local Arkema officials.
If the bond sale does go through this month, Kropidlowski said the new well should be pumping water in fall 2016.
The PSC ruling confirmed the village’s contention that drilling a new well is more cost-effective than connecting with a neighboring water system to increase capacity.
“In order to support a wholesale purchase arrangement with the Port Washington water system, expensive new facilities would need to be constructed,” the ruling stated.
“These costs, coupled with the high cost of purchased water, make this supply alternative a much more expensive option than a new well.”
The village is conducting a water rate study that was part of the well construction process, but the PSC ruling suggested a 24% increase in water rates may be needed.
The water utility maintains four wells, two elevated water towers and 22 miles of water main.
The water system has 1,655 customers and reported revenues of nearly $1.3 million in 2013.
Industrial sales account for 70% of the utility’s water sales, with half of that amount going to Charter Steel.