New Berlin officials seek to strengthen studies on city's long-range water needs

April 30, 2014

New Berlin — With the New Berlin water system facing pressing needs, the Common Council Utility Committee last week swallowed hard and approved an additional $31,500 to get a plan that should put the system in good stead for up to 30 years.

The committee was in sticker shock after already approving $18,000 for consultant Kaempfer Associates of Oconto Falls, Wis., to clear up areas of confusion in the original $56,000 water system study done last year by another consultant. Besides clearing up those areas of confusion, Kaempfer put the original study's data into a format that now enables officials to make decisions about what the system needs.

The additional $31,500 will result in recommendations on how to address the system's issues.

Without a long-term plan, committee member Robert Dude said after the meeting: "People may be happy today but they might not be happy 10 years from now."

But it was a bit of a pill.

"That's a pretty large increase," committee member James Morrisey said, but noted, "Obviously, it's a lot more work."

The committee attempted to make sure that this would be the last additional expense for the 30-year plan.

Dude also chaffed at the request for additional money, but said some needs in the system are "scary."

The main one is to create alternate ways for water to reach an area of New Berlin from Milwaukee, he said. All but one of the mains bringing water from Milwaukee to eastern New Berlin have alternate piping in case the flows in the main ones are interrupted. An interruption in the main without redundancies could be dealt with by rerouting water, but that is not optimal, Dude said.

Besides building in redundancies, the water pressures in the system need to be better balanced, said Mayor Dave Ament. In a few areas, water pressure is so low that some people have bought pumps to get water to the second floor, he said.

However, there is enough water pressure even in those low-pressure areas for fire fighting, he emphasized.

To be sure the city gets what it wants this time, committee member Ald. Joseph Stribl emphasized that the recommendations be practical keeping costs in mind.

"There's the engineering way and the realistic way," Stribl said.

Chris Kaempfer, chief engineer with Kaempfer Associates, assured that he appreciated the difference and that the city would get what it wants. That didn't quite happen the first time around with the other consultant, even though specifics were spelled out, Dude said.

But the city is essentially helpless to do anything about it, he said.

"I'm sure in some legal terms they did exactly what we told them to do," he said.


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