DNR: Wausaukee Water Supply Precarious; New Well Needed
Failure to heed the one-way street signs that are part of the detour system while the new Hwy. 141 bridge is under construction has been proving costly to motorists, Wausaukee Village President Hilbert Slug Radtke warned at the start of the Village Board meeting on Monday, July 21. Radtke said the Wisconsin State Patrol has been enforcing regulations in the village, and traveling the wrong way on a detour street resulted in $176 fines for each of seven drivers on a recent day.
Radtke reminded Public Works Director Darryl Schmidt that patching the detour streets and replacing damaged signs on them is a responsibility of the state Department of Transportation (DOT) or their contractor, not the village. There had been a number of damaged detour signs.
The Village Board made several difficult decisions and a few easy ones during a long, hard meeting that included action on a new well, street improvement decisions, maintenance and repair work on some village owned buildings, and adopting a new ordinance suggested by Community Code Service that authorizes background checks for just about anyone who has interaction with municipal services, provided the criminal history information is requested by the Village Clerk, Treasurer or a department head, based on a reasonable belief that the criminal history information is necessary to assist in the safe and efficient operation of local government and/or to safeguard the public health and safety. Trustee Ann Hartnell had some concerns about the variety of instances for which a search could be authorized, but ended up voting in favor of the ordinance, as did everyone else on the board. In my opinion, adopting this ordinance is a sound pro-active approach, just in case ordinance, Atty. Alan J. Harvey explained. He said it will eliminate any gray area if record searches are requested.
Granting permission for members of Marinette County and Green Bay chapters of Trout Unlimited to clean up 1,800 feet of the Wausaukee River stream bed from Cedar Street to the dam on Saturday, Aug. 16 was one of the easy ones. Cliff Sebero, DNR Fisheries Technician from the Peshtigo office, explained some woody matter in trout streams is good for streams and the fish that live in them, but there is too much in the creek in Wausaukee, causing it to clog up and overflow. They also plan to pick up debris on the stream bank and in the stream bed. The board authorized use of their ATVs on the walking trail while the work is going on. The village agreed a small sign can be posted recognizing their work. Radtke asked Sebero to look into the possibility the village could get a permit to dredge or clean up the dam pond, and Sebero agreed, but said the likelihood is small.
Other easy decisions were approving some no parking signs and a beer license for the Marinette County Fair from Thursday, Aug. 21 through Sunday, Aug. 24, and granting St. Augustine Catholic Church permission to use 10 village-owned picnic tables for its 125th anniversary celebration on Sunday, Aug. 24 without charge, provided they pick up the tables from the ball park and return them to Evergreen Park. That transaction saves some work for village employees, as the ball clubs will be finished with the tables at the ball field for the season prior to the church event.
The hardest decision probably was to go forward with the search for a site for a new village well, a project with a price tag in the $1.5 million range. Engineering search for a site could come to $200,000.
No action is really not an option for you at this point, you have a municipal water supply thats in precarious condition, the DNRs Wendy Anderson told the board during a discussion on Well No. 1 exploration options. Also participating in the discussion was Steve Friberg of Coleman Engineering, who has been serving as consultant for the village on water quality testing.
High nitrate levels have been showing up in tests of water from that well, which provides a good share of the villages water supply since 1998, and Anderson said they wont get better. The difference is formerly there were lows to offset the highs, but now those lows no longer exist. If the levels exceed the safe drinking water threshold, the village will need to issue a warning that the water should not be consumed by babies or pregnant mothers, and once you lower the publics confidence in your water supply its hard to restore it, Anderson cautioned.
Replacing the well wont be cheap. Cost estimate is in the $1.5 million range, but Anderson said if they start the wheels in motion now and borrow the money from the states Clean Water fund, the village may qualify for forgiveness of up to $500,000, or one third of the project cost. She said if they had done the new well this year, the $500,000 forgiveness - which is the equivalent of a grant - would be guaranteed. While forgiveness probability is still good for 2015/2016, she could not guess what will happen beyond that.
Search and engineering for the new well could easily fall in the $200,000 range but hopefully closer to $100,000, the board was told. Friberg said they will look at where the geology might be good and take tests. The well site cannot be closer than 1,200 feet to the wastewater treatment plant, must be away from known contaminated sites, and must provide an ample supply.
Friberg said the village should go ahead with a bond issue, since they will need to pay the entire costs, then refinance through the Clean Water Fund and get the loan forgiveness. He said even if they start the search for a location this fall, well construction likely would not start until 2016.
Anderson explained the firm hired to do the site study will look at the the geology of the area, check the quality of water from private wells near the proposed site, and then recommend some sites to test.
Trustee Rosie Figas asked if there is a way to filter the nitrates out, but Anderson felt that would not be a viable option because the casing is so shallow that something more could happen.
Its hard when weve only got 300 rate payers, commented Radtke. Where are we going to get the money?
Anderson replied those rate payers are the same people they need to protect. As to the money, Anderson conceded, I admit its coming from a pot that doesnt exist. She added later, Youre doing a balancing act, with quality, quantity and cost.
She suggested doing the site studies in phases, starting with $50,000 for the first phase.
Board members had numerous suggestions for sites to check, including wells all along the railroad right of way that formerly supplied steam engines.
Anderson told them the consulting firm will go through all the old records and find out where viable sites may be. There were expressions of hope that a site could be found near the water tower, but Anderson said wherever the well is located, they will not need to run a new line to the tower, just to the nearest connecting water line with sufficient size.
iI think we know the gravity of the situation, Rosie Figas commented. The time to do something is now.
Clerk Toshia Ranallo asked if the engineering costs could be put with the Clean Water loan eventually, and was told that they can, and that expense will also qualify for the one third forgiveness if that program is still active.
Friberg said interest rate now is extremely good - 1.1 percent, but that wont last long.
Ranallo said then the first thing to do is put out a bid proposal for consulting.
Friberg agreed. He explained they can ask for cost based or qualifications based proposals.
Trustee Jason Figas said he would move to do that, but we dont have $50,000 or $100,000 set aside. He felt they could not go forward until they put it in the budget.
Hartnell suggested tapping the villages $200,000 line of credit.
Treasurer Sara Pullen agreed that would be a viable solution. She said the remainder of the existing loan from that line of credit will be paid off on Aug. 31 and suggested it would be foolish to not at least seek a site, given the current interest rates.
Hartnell then moved to seek proposals for a new well site study and explore financing options. Approval was unanimous.
Its not going to be wasted money, its an in vestment in your community, Anderson assured them.
The old dam pond, which currently needs dredging or some other attention, currently supplies water for the automated fire protection system at Wausaukee Composites, and the board has been seeking ways they might get permission to do some work there, ranging from dredging to beefing up the shoreline to prevent further erosion. Hartnell wondered if a new well would eliminate the need for that pond as a fire protection source.
Friberg and Anderson left the meeting, but there were at least two more issues connected with the water supply. One involved need to replace some old and brittle wiring in the control panel at Well No. 1, and the other need for at least two portable water meters with backflow control valves. Construction crews working on the bridge have been getting their water from the village utility. After considerable discussion the board agreed to spend up to $1,500 now for one new meter with the back flow valve, and investigate the possibility of adding back flow valve to an existing meter, or buy the second from the 2015 budget.
Radtke commented on the bright side, the new pump at the Wastewater Treatment Plant is already half paid for, partly because the utility has been able to accept sludge from private haulers.
While reviewing invoices, Rosie Figas questioned $1,500 for flowers. She noted at a previous meeting she had suggested cutting that budget by half, and was told that would save only $250. Pullen checked the invoice and said it was for 500 geraniums, 50 spikes, and 50 mixed vines. Schmidt said there also had been some potting soil and a couple of new pots.
In presenting her treasurers report, Pullen commented, We have a whole lot of things to pay for, and we are already overbudget. She said there had been unanticipated expenses, for example pumps that broke down, and numerous things to fix.
Sludge dumping, made possible by repairing the wastewater treatment plant pump, can be a big money maker, Pullen said. She had $4,200 in hauler slips from last month.
She said in October they will need to come up with $48,000 for the sanitary sewer line going under the new bridge, and that scares the heck out of me. That expense was not budgeted because the bridge wasnt supposed to be done until 2016.
A $90,000 Trust Fund loan was not used for the original purpose, but $50,000 of it is gone to cover general expenses. However, effect of the new utility rates with the 3 percent increase will not show until the next billing.
Trustee Kyle Stumbris suggested since the Wastewater Treatment Plant loan is paid off they no longer are legally required to keep that reserve fund. They could use that to pay the $48,000 expense, and then pay it back over time. There also is $36,000 in a fund for water tower repairs. Consensus was to take the $48,000 from the sewer repair fund and address that account at the next meeting. Schmidt reminded the board they will also need to tie into water and sewer lines across the river.
Radtke reported most of the wood from the disposal site at the gravel pit has been ground up and hauled away - about four truck loads - but some was too wet and mixed with dirt to be good for pelletized fuel. He said cost of hauling was about $115 over the $5,000 budgeted. He suggested residents should be allowed to take the mulch/wood and use it in their yards, and the board agreed. Anyone wanting the mixture should contact Ranallo or Pullen during office hours on week days. Schmidt said the site is locked and gated on weekends.
The board agreed to resolve a problem with mold growing on the pavilion at Payant Park by having it pressure washed, using village equipment. The paving bricks with sponsor names will also be pressure washed to remove grass and debris.
A quote of $9,975 was received from Wausaukee Lumber to remove four layers of old roofing from the main portion of the old library building and replace it with new roofing, as well as replace rotting boards. Board members felt the building is not worth this expense. It currently is used once a year by the American Legion, as a site for their food stand during the Marinette County Fair.
That issue, and repairs to the roof of a restroom building at Evergreen Park, will be reviewed by the Building and Grounds Committee at a special meeting at 7:15 p.m. Monday, July 28, starting at the old library building. Bid for replacing the restroom roof with a new steel one came to $2,916, but included tearing off the old roofing and hauling it to the landfill. Trustee Jason Figas felt they could get it done for half that price if the contractor simply puts new steel roofing over the existing shingles.
The board agreed Schmidt and Corey Severin should work together to alleviate a problem with water draining from the village hall property into Severins yard and driveway. They will dig a trench and reshape the drainage. Radtke said Severin has agreed to the proposal, and cost for the village will be less than $100. Radtke felt that is fair, since the village has encroached on Severins property by changing the drainage routes.
Much discussion preceded a decision to hire Northeast Asphalt to repave Butternut Street this year for their low bid price of $28,420. The other bid, $31,000, was from Barrette Asphalt of Peshtigo. Marinette County submitted an offer to do the repaving for $25,500, but their proposal did not include reconnecting driveway aprons or adding gravel shoulders.
The bid from the Marinette County for pulverizing and repaving a segment of County C was $76,000, while overlay bid was $52,300. There were no other offers.
Trustee Bradley Taylor argued strongly in favor of just doing a crack seal or 2 gravel overlay on some streets, rather than the full pulverizing and repaving, until after the 2016 Hwy. 141 reconstruction is done, to be sure they have enough for the street work the village plans in connection with that project.
Jason Figas noted the street reconstruction budget for 2014 is only $25,000, but pointed out there is a fund with $37,000 left over from projects they didnt do last year.
Ranallo said there had been a request from someone to pave Paxton from C to Cut Off Road. Radtke commented that is badly in need of repairs, but has extremely light use.
Pullen noted they had put $25,000 in the budget for street projects this year, and set an additional $10,000 aside in a separate streets projects account for 2016, when they plan to redo the first block of each street off Hwy. 141 in connection with the states reconstruction project.
Schmidt reminded them a few years ago they approved a 5-year plan to do regular work on village streets to be sure they dont all end up in bad condition at the same time.
Taylor felt it was important to remember the plan to do all the side streets up to First Street when Hwy. 141 is paved. The village plan is to have the work done by the states contractor when the highway paving is done, which will bring them a far better price.
There was brief discussion on condition of the railroad crossing at Hwy. C, and Hartnell said Tom Klimek, a spokesman for the railroad, had told her they will not redo crossings. Stumbris commented that is contrary to what the board was told a year ago by the railroad, when their intent was to put in all new crossings when they replaced the ties. The tie replacement work is currently in progress. Schmidt recalled several years ago the village, with permission from the railroad, put in new crossings on several village streets.
Taylor cited the cost difference between cold mix and hot mix, and suggested the Streets and Drainage Committee should have a meeting to look again at using cold mix except on heavy traffic streets.
Pullen cautioned against failing to use enough street improvement money this year. She said their state Shared Revenues directly reflect the spending on streets. This year they received $141,000, but that payment would be much, much smaller next year if they spend nothing this year. Ranallo agreed, and said she will get more information for the board on the funding formula.
(Ranallo did the research later in the week, and learned that it is General Transportation Aid (GTA), not Shared Revenues, that are tied to spending for road improvements. That fund comes from things like gas taxes, vehicle registration fees, etc. and is earmarked for use in the transportation system.
According to a Department of Transportation manual, the GTA payments are calculated on the basis of three-year averages, but there are cushions and caps to prevent huge changes up or down. The GTA is calculated by multiplying the municipalitys three year average eligible costs by 85 percent, so a huge drop in spending one year can lead to a drop in aids the next two years, unless offset by a year or two of higher than average spending.)
Pullen suggested the Finance Committee should meet and revamp the entire budget. She said they had put money away in various accounts, and may have $300,000 to play with.
Several trustees felt Butternut is probably not the worst street in the village, but ultimately the decision was to stay with the plan and do the repaving on it this year. Taylor cast the sole opposing vote. It was last paved in 1967, so the sentiment was that the work will again last a long, long time.
The board accepted the low bid of $1.40 per gallon for propane from Country Side, for up to 12,000 gallons. They use 8,500 gallons in a normal year. Last year they purchased 11,276 gallons. Stumbris noted the company had provided good service to them in the past, and honored their price when the problems broke last year.
The other bid, for $1.50.9 per gallon was from Country Visions of Reedsville, which has purchased Francour Oil. Taylor abstained from voting, but commented Country Visions honored all its contracts last year and kept everyones tank filled.
Recent stories, opinions and photos