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Are there other important details I should know about?
Q: When is the project expected to be completed?
A: The project will take several years to plan and build.

The Waukesha Water Utility has hired a program manager and is currently working with consultants on project design, pipeline routes, permitting, public outreach planning, and more. Construction is expected to begin in 2019, and Waukesha’s goal is to have the new water supply online as early as 2022. As work progresses, we’ll be reaching out to people in the communities involved on a regular basis.

Back to top. Q: Where will the pipeline be routed?
A: The planning team is in the process of determining possible routes for both the water supply pipeline from Oak Creek to Waukesha and the return flow pipeline from Waukesha to the Root River in Franklin.

We expect the route to be finalized by mid-2017, and anticipate that it will use existing rights-of-way and transportation corridors for most of its length. Stay tuned for more details.

Back to top. Q: How will the project be paid for, and will it affect my water bill?
A: Waukesha’s new water program will be funded through several sources.

The sale of bonds, low-interest federal loans through the state, and potential federal grant money will partially pay for the project. Of course, as the primary beneficiaries of the program, customers of the Waukesha Water Utility will also help pay the total cost through increased rates. And while the water portion of the bill – typically about half of the total – could double and possibly triple, residents in the service area are, by and large, viewing the increase as an investment in their community’s future.

For residents of Oak Creek (as well as those living in Franklin and Caledonia, communities that also get their water from Oak Creek) the sale of Great Lakes water to Waukesha will provide additional revenues that could result in rates that are lower than they would have been otherwise. Rates in the partner communities through which the new pipeline will travel (Muskego and New Berlin) are expected to remain unaffected.

Back to top. Q: As a Waukesha resident, what changes can I expect with the new water?
A: The biggest change with the switch from groundwater to the new Lake Michigan supply will be that the water coming into homes and business will be much softer.

In other words, it will have much less iron and manganese in it. Residents will immediately notice that it’s better for washing dishes, clothes and even your hair. It’s also good for your dishwasher, your washing machine and your hot water heater because there’s much less mineral build-up.

Back to top. Q: Will Waukesha residents still need their water softeners after the changeover?
A: In a word, no.

At the same time, the Utility recognizes that this decision remains a personal choice for each user. While the City of Waukesha is discouraging continued use because they contribute to higher chloride levels in the new water supply’s return flow, customers have the right to decide how best to move forward. At a minimum, the softener regeneration cycle can be scaled back significantly because the new water is nearly 70% softer than the current supply. Getting rid of your water softener entirely will lead to savings that can help mitigate the rate increases accompanying the program: aside from the expense associated with periodically replacing the unit, residents can realize a reduction in the monthly costs of salt and electricity.

Back to top. Q: How will the new water taste?
A: The taste of water that’s sourced from Lake Michigan may be slightly different than our current groundwater because it will have less mineral content.

While taste preferences are highly subjective, it’s important to remember that millions of people drink and enjoy freshwater from the Great Lakes every day, including those in hundreds of Wisconsin communities. In our case, the taste will be made all the sweeter by the knowledge that we are doing the right thing for Waukesha’s future.

Back to top. Q: Where can I find more information about the program?
A: A robust, program-specific website is under development, and is expected to launch early in 2017.

There you’ll find answers to any and all pertinent questions. Until then, keep checking this website for updates as they become available. And, as always, feel free to contact us directly with questions and comments. We’re here to help!

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