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Whitefish Bay Village Board wants more information on storm water system costs

April 16, 2012

Whitefish Bay trustees want more information on the costs of upgrading the specific areas hardest hit by flooding in 2010 before making any decisions on how to proceed. Steve Stricklen of Donohue and Associates tonight gave the Village Board both the good and bad news.

The good news? There is sufficient room underground for engineers to design a system that would handle the storm water from a 500 year rain, and avoid other utilities. The bad news was the cost.

Basic costs for the system designed for the 500 year event were $134 million. They dropped to $110 million for the 100 year flood and to $108 million for the 10 year flood.

Most communities do not build a storm sewer system for a 500 year rain, with most designed for a 10 year flood.

The cost doesn't include other programs aimed at keeping storm water out of basements such as the detention pond that will likely be built at Cahill Park and the costs of the private property inflow and infiltration program. Private sanitary laterals would be lined with pipes to prevent ground water from getting into the sewer pipes.

Village staff recently learned that the mainline sewer pipes would also need to be lined to make the program successful. The lining of the public mains in the proposed project area adds $821,000 to the cost. The cost for lining private laterals is estimated at $6,000 per household.

Village President Julie Siegel said the cost of those projects total nearly $200 million, a cost many on the board feel is too high and asked if there were other options the board could consider. Siegel pointed out the village would need to spend money on other capital projects over the next 20 to 30 years in addition to the money spent on storm water and sanitary sewer projects.

"I am afraid we will price people right out of their homes," she said.

Village Manager Pat DeGrave said that the amount was significant even for an affluent community such as Whitefish Bay.

DeGrave will talk with financial consultant Ehlers to work out several options for a number of different stormwater plans and bring that back to the board in a month.

The board did decide to take the next step with the PPII program, asking for bids to inspect the laterals. DeGrave said that the board could stop that program at any time if it chose to do so. The village expects part of that program to be funded by a grant from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

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