Several owners of land along a portion of 10th Avenue and County Line Road weighed in on an initiative to hook their homes up to city water, partially at their own expense, during the Common Council meeting Tuesday.
The $800,000 cost for connecting 26 properties would be split through special assessments, with residents paying $462,000 and the city $338,000. The Common Council voted to connect the residents in a split decision after hearing from more than seven of the homeowners.
The average cost per homeowner is, according to city water and sewer utility engineer Ron Pritzlaff, $11,000. Not included in the cost is the price of hooking their homes up to the city's main line.
"I've been alderman for 10 years now and I can tell you that this is probably one of the most contentious issues I've ever had," said Alderman Michael Toman, who voted in favor of the connections. "My phone's been ringing off the hook for the last two to three weeks."
He added that the feedback has been half for and half against the project.
The issue was brought before the council by resident Richard Paul, who had 10 homeowners sign a petition asking to be connected to city water after their wells were found to have, at the time, unsafe levels of Molybdenum. Two other homeowners called Paul after he submitted the petition, asking that their names be added as well.
The petition was signed in April when the Wisconsin Department of Public Health warned against molybdenum levels of 40 micrograms of the metal per liter in drinking water. That number has since been increased to 90 micrograms per liter, putting all but one property at levels considered safe for consumption.
Paul said no residents contacted him about changing their minds due to the new study. Connecting to the city water, they argued, would increase their property values and help them remove themselves from the negative stigma associated with molybdenum in their wells.
Molybdenum is a naturally occurring metal found in soil and rock and can be the result of industrial activities. High levels of molybdenum have been found to affect reproductive systems on animals but information on the effects on humans is very limited.
Most of those opposed to the water main owned properties along 10th Avenue, and Alderman Ken Gehl asked if it was possible to connect only the residents along County Line.
"I would not be at all supportive of that," said Water and Sewer Utility General Manager Mike Sullivan. "We always want to create looping and to get that water to flow both ways."
A closed loop would, he added, require flushing, give less access to water for firefighters, cause complete loss of service in the case of a water main break and would be against DNR standards.
The motion passed with aldermen Gehl and Steven Kurkowski in opposition.
Faye Holguin, who lives along 10th Avenue, said she was disappointed that the aldermen didn't listen to the plan's dissenters. She added, "I'm happy with my well water. I love it and it's been servicing us fine for the last 12 to 13 years."
Connecting to the city water will cost her $20,000.
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