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Greenfield Common Council allows 33 homes to not hook up to city water

July 22, 2014

Greenfield — Without much debate, the Greenfield Common Council agreed with its Public Works Committee that the 33 homes that have slipped through the cracks without having to hook up to city water should not be forced to do so now.

However, if their wells fail, they will have to hook up, the council decided last week. However, that failure would have to be more than a pump needing to be replaced, the council decided.

Greenfield ordered universal hookup 50 or 60 years ago at the request of the Milwaukee Water Works that wanted to be sure that it would have customers if it spent millions to get service to the city, said Richard Sokol, director of neighborhood services.

Hundreds hooked up and all new buildings automatically were connected to city water, he said.

But for various reasons 33 homes are still not hooked up half a century later.

City staff brought up the situation because of the seeming inequity in the other homes paying for hydrants and helping pay for the original water service.

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 of Public Works that they do pay $35 or $40 per quarter to the Milwaukee Water Works even though they don't get city water.

About 15 people came to the Board of Public Works objecting to enforcing the hookup ordinance. 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.

Another potential roadblock to making the houses hook up is ambiguity in the wording of state statutes on the subject, Alderman Bruce Bailey said.

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.

The city does not require properties to be hooked up to city water when they are sold, Sokol said. But before a home is sold, the title company asks the city if the home complies with city codes and the answer for the 33 homes would be "no," Sokol said. At that point, it is up to the title company, the buyer and the seller to decide if a hookup is necessary, he said.

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