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Well owners will not dry up

July 14, 2014

Greenfield — The last 33 properties in the city that are still on private wells should not be forced to hook up to municipal water, the Greenfield Board of Public Works has recommended.

The Common Council is expected to act on the recommendation on Tuesday, July 15.

Hooking up to city water would cost $5,000 to $10,000 if a lateral already extends from the water main to the property line, Sokol said. But if there isn't a lateral, it would cost an additional approximately $5,000, he said.

Universal hookup was ordered by ordinance in the 1950s or perhaps in the 1960s, said Ricahrd Sokol, director of neighborhood services.

Greenfield passed the hookup ordinance at the request of the Milwaukee Water Works that was going to spend millions of dollars to extend water mains to Greenfield and wanted to be sure it would have customers to help pay for them, Sokol said.

Hookups happened large numbers, increased by the new building the city was experiencing at the time, Sokol said. Since the order, all new homes are automatically connected to city water, he said.

Half a century after the hookup order, 33 homes are still not hooked up for various reasons and remain on wells. There is a cluster of six at Mallard Circle and Edgerton Avenue and another two or three at about 99th and Cold Spring Road. The rest are scattered throughout the city, Sokol said.

City staff brought up the situation because of the seeming inequity.

"Those on wells and not connected are not paying their fair share to the city of Milwaukee or their fair share toward the hydrant system," Sokol said. The average residential water bill is about $70 per quarter, he said.

But a woman who lives in one of the 33 homes told the board that they do pay $35 or $40 per quarter to the Milwaukee Water Works even though they don't get city water.

"It's a close call," said Alderman Bruce Bailey who voted with the rest of the board to send letters to the 33 homeowners telling them they are not in compliance with the city ordinance and that they might have to hook up to city water if they sell their homes.

But Bailey said, the 15 people who came to the committee meeting and the two who spoke didn't talk much about cost, they talked about personal freedom and about how the cryptosporidium outbreak in 1993 in the Milwaukee Water Works scared them.

More than 100 people died and 400,000 people were sickened when the microscopic parasite got into the Milwaukee water.

Bailey said he could sympathize with them as his mother was one of those who were sickened. Bailey said he thinks the illness hastened her death only three or four months later, as she was already weakened from battling breast cancer.

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