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Pulaski picks Green Bay over Brown County for water supply

By Nick Wood
Acting Editor

PULASKI – The Pulaski Village Board on Monday unanimously chose Green Bay Water (GBW) to provide Lake Michigan water to its 1,300 residential and 180 business customers.

Last month the board met in closed session to consider proposals from both GBW and the Central Brown County Water Authority (CBCWA).

The village currently gets its water from two groundwater wells.

In a phone interview prior to that meeting, Village President Keith Chambers said the village has been struggling with poor water quality for years due to high concentrations of iron and manganese in the ground water.

Those minerals settle in the supply pipes and also in the village’s Williams Street Water Tower.

With a capacity of 500,000 gallons, the 115-foot-tall lollipop-style tower actually moves in the wind.

The sloshing water picks up sediment in the 22-year-old structure and delivers it to customers through their taps.

“Every time we have a major weather event with winds over 35 mph, the water tower sways and knocks sediment loose,” Chambers said.

Pipe flushing and discolored tap water are facts of life in Pulaski.

Pulaski has spent about two years studying possibilities to fix the issue, including doing nothing, working with GBW or the CBCWA and building a third well.

Robert E. Lee, the Village’s engineering consultant of more than 30 years, submitted a formal recommendation to the Village Board earlier this year to choose Green Bay Water.

Chambers said the prices of the two Lake Michigan water proposals were significantly different, so they hired accounting firm CLA to run the numbers out over 20 years so they could review the proposals side by side.

“We gave it to the accountant to let them figure it out,” Chambers said.

A tale of two pipelines
Formed in 1956, GBW serves about 140,000 customers in the city of Green Bay, the villages of Ashwaubenon, Hobart and Wrightstown and the town of Scott.

It gets its water from Kewaunee, about 27 miles east, via a pipe one mile offshore and 60 feet deep.
After failing to reach an agreement with GBW for service, the city of De Pere and the villages of Allouez, Bellevue, Howard, Lawrence and Bellevue decided in 1999 to purchase water from Manitowoc and build its own pipe to Lake Michigan.

Both entities have excess capacity, and adding municipal customers helps defray costs for existing customers.

The most recent addition to either entity was the village of Denmark, which chose CBCWA in May of this year.

Suamico is the largest remaining community in the county to still use groundwater, and it recently drilled a new well.

Chambers said regardless of which supplier Pulaski chose, it was a package deal with Pittsfield down the road.

“We’re going to put a T in at Kunesh and run the line out of either Howard (CBCWA) or Hobart (GBW),” Chambers said. “I grew up in PIttsfield, and that’s some crap water. Once they get a taste of Lake Michigan water, they’re not going to know what hit them.”

Stimulus for growth
Pulaski Director of Public Works Joel Van Lannen said in a Wednesday press release that he was pleased with the board’s decision.

“This decision will have a considerable positive effect on our growing Village and provide us with safe, sustainable water that supports even more growth,” he said.

Nancy Quirk, general manager of GBW, said Pulaski will be an excellent addition as the village pursues a bold strategy that stimulates investment and growth.

“We at Green Bay Water made a similar choice in the 1950s when we converted from wells to Lake Michigan and are indebted to our forefathers for making this choice, since the dependability, quality and quantity of our Lake Michigan system continues to enrich our community and those around us,” she said.

GBW currently has the ability to pump, treat and distribute 42 million gallons of water per day, but use less than half of that capacity on an average day — so there is plenty of room for growth.

The utility also has redundancy, with two water lines in Lake Michigan that carry water to a Lake Station in Kewaunee, two raw water lines to carry the water to the filter plant, two mains that transport water into the city, and eight backup wells that safeguard the system from losing water in an emergency.

The estimated project cost is $11.5 million, and the Village will apply for grants and use every and take other cost-cutting measures to keep expenses down.

“We are beginning to plan for this right away and hope to have the system up and running in the coming few years or so,” said Van Lannen, noting that supply chain and workforce difficulties have hampered his ability to provide a firm timeline of the large-scale construction project.

Village President Keith Chambers, who abstained from voting, said in the press release he was pleased with the decision.

“We trust our citizens will be satisfied with the water they receive due to Green Bay Water’s reputation as an industry leader with an outstanding track record of providing safe drinking water. I appreciate everyone’s efforts and commitment to Pulaski’s residents and businesses.”

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