Pulaski water costs expected to exceed $15.3M

Village will finance most of the project with Safe Drinking Water Loan from DNR
Kevin Murphy

The cost to bring water to Pulaski from the Green Bay Water Utility is an estimated $15.3 million, according to a construction application filed last month with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The project could pump up overall water rates by 218%, staff at Robert E. Lee Engineering estimated.

Efforts to get current water rates locally were unsuccessful. However, a February 2022 PSC order authorized charging average residential customers $92.15 quarterly for using 10,000 gallons of water.

Village Board President Keith Chambers expected a new rate request would be filed when the project nears completion.

An increase for any individual customer would depend on the project’s actual cost, the amount of return on equity the PSC authorizes and water usage.

Chambers acknowledged that the project comes with a hefty price tag, but bringing water from Lake Michigan was the least expensive option that Lee Engineering consultants researched.

“Dollars and sense-wise, this is the best,” Chambers said. “I think it would have been a 259% increase if we went with Central Brown County Water Authority (as a wholesale supplier) and if we corrected our own problems, it would have been over 400%.”

Pulaski’s two wells don’t produce enough water to meet the volume that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requires to fight a significant fire if one well was inoperable.

Expansion and development in the village has increased the daily demand volume, and the water produced is often discolored by high concentrations of iron and manganese, according to the Lee Engineering application.

The project would pipe water from a distribution station in Hobart at the intersection of North Overland Road and Centerline Drive. A booster station will be built on the north side of state Highway 29 and on the west side of County Road U to provide sufficient pressure to pump the water to Pulaski.

The path of the 10-inch water main would continue north on County Road U until the intersection with the Mountain Bay Trail, which ties into the Pulaski distribution system.

Part of the path parallels the route of a sewer line that connects the village to a regional wastewater treatment plant in Green Bay. Some existing main in the village near the path of the pipeline that has experienced several costly breaks in recent years would be replaced during the project.

The village will finance the project with a $12.17 million Safe Drinking Water Loan the DNR offers at 2.14% for 20 years. The loan has a $1.6 million principal forgiveness provision, according to the application. The Green Bay Water Utility is offering a $1.6 million grant, which Chambers said was probably an incentive the utility offered to seal the deal.

Annual operating expenses are estimated at $533,250 which includes $475,500 to purchase water from the GBWU at $2.44 per 1,000 gallons. Also, $20,000 for labor, $20,000 for fuel for the pumps and $13,500 in general maintenance.

That expense would be offset by the village closing its two wells and a ground storage reservoir while retaining the water tower for storage and pressurization.

“Yes, we could become totally dependent on Green Bay for water,” Chambers said.

The line from Hobart would cross the town of Pittsfield, which would pay Pulaski a conveyance fee if it ties into it. Chambers believes the town intends to do that, but the arrangements aren’t currently in place, he said.

DNR and PSC approval are also pending.

The project has largely been designed but not bid yet. Chambers expects that to occur soon. It would take about 18 months to complete construction.

Depending on equipment and contractor availability, Pulaski residents could be drinking Green Bay water by late 2025, according to the application.