Village Board OKs $34 Million Plan to Fix Sewers
After months of debate and several changes, Shorewood moves forward with plan to address faulty sewers.
Saying they need to send a message to residents that they are serious about addressing Shorewood’s sewer woes, village trustees Monday approved a comprehensive sewer plan with a $34.1 million price tag.
"It really makes sense to do this," Village President Guy Johnson said. "This is the board going on record saying, 'We're ready for the next step.' "
However, the village will nail down the finances and construction schedule at a future meeting.
Officials also agreed to add information to the plan that addresses why certain areas of the village are not being included in the sewer project.
Trustee Michael Maher said the board just wants to document that those areas haven't been forgotten and its investigation shows these areas haven't shown a need for work.
Shorewood officials began working on the plan after the village was saturated by rain last July that caused severe flooding and basement backups.
The plan is a scaled-down version of the original $52.3 million project that included a completely new sewer system for much of the village. Factoring in inflation, the price tag of that plan would have been about $71.5 million.
Officials also released a new, revised look at what it will cost the owner of a home assessed at $300,000:
The plan will still hit homeowner’s pocketbooks in a variety of way, including:
- An extra $41 on 2012’s property tax bill for a home assessed at $300,000. That figure will increase to $115 annually by 2015, $151 by 2018 and $91 in 2025.
- A sanitary sewer fee increase of $77 in 2012, which would increase to $261 by 2015 and $274 by 2018.
- The village would create a stormwater utility and residents will see a user fee of $15 in 2012, $205 in 2015, $334 in 2018 and $418 in 2025.
- Some residents’ homes will be selected to have work done on their laterals, with a direct cost of $2,000. The lateral work is estimated to cost $6,000 per year for 10 years but a Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District grant is expected to cover $2,000 and the other $2,000 is to be cover by an increase in the tax levy. The village has already approved work to start on identifying homes in need of lateral rehabilitation through die-testing.
Plans call for 90 percent of the project to be funded through utility fees, with 5 percent coming from the tax levy and 5 percent from MMSD grants and special assessments.
The original plan focused heavily on separating combined sanitary and stormwater sewers in much of Shorewood east of North Oakland Avenue. The new approach still calls for replacement of sewers in the area, but it will focus on rain runoff on the street, which will be directed toward the Milwaukee River instead of Lake Michigan.
West of North Oakland Avenue, storm water will drain to the Milwaukee River and the already separated sewer system would see increased capacity.
The change came after the Village Board tasked four engineering firms in late February with analyzing the village’s sewer plan and officials later released a tweaked plan at a special sewer meeting. Each firm focused on one corner of the village, giving revised recommendations to the original sewer plan.
As road reconstruction was already planned for this summer, the village had awarded contracts to conduct sewer work while repairs occur on North Downer Avenue starting June 1. Some Downer Avenue residents won't have access to their driveways as work is completed, Director of the Department of Public Works Leeann Butschlick said. The work won't include the whole area, however.
The village still plans to focus on four goals:
- Provide sewer backup protection for 2 inches of rain in one hour in the whole village by 2015.
- In the long term, provide backup protection for 4 inches of rain in one hour.
- Separate currently combined storm and sanitary sewers by 2035.
- Reduce street flooding throughout the village to prevent pooling water from coming within 2 feet of any building opening during 3-inch-per-hour rainfall by 2020.