September 2, 2008

New Berlin’s Deal to Buy Lake Michigan Water Likely to Run Through

By Sean Ryan

Unless something unexpected crops up, New Berlin's application to buy Lake Michigan water should gain state approval.

"I'm certainly not aware of any new problematic issues," said Todd Ambs, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Water Division administrator. "But we'll do what they call our due diligence."

The DNR last year reviewed a preliminary application about New Berlin's plan to buy an additional 3.6 million gallons of water from Milwaukee a day and found no problems, Ambs said.

The regulatory review is greatly simplified because New Berlin plans to send the Milwaukee water, which would come from Lake Michigan, back to the lake through the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District system, Ambs said. Since some water from New Berlin wells will get mixed in, and some will leak into cracked pipes along the way, the city will return more water to the lake than it takes out, he said. The DNR determined there won't be environmental impacts from water coming out of underground wells and into Lake Michigan.

"When I've posed that question, the answer was, 'You don't have to worry about that in your lifetime," Ambs said.

New Berlin approved the water sale agreement on Aug. 26. The DNR is the last agency to review the proposal, and Ambs said his department would expedite the process.

Originally published by Sean Ryan.

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