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Major Sewer Improvements Could Start This Summer

Officials approve bidding out for $4.4 million in projects for the western portion of Shorewood.

As officials begin to execute their in the backdrop of the torrential rains of July 2010, the Village Board approved seeking bids for sewer work in the western part of the village.

Unanimously approving bidding out for $4.4 million in projects slated to start this summer, trustees say they hope their actions send a message to homeowners that they are ready to make good on their promise to address the aging sewer system.

"This design, I think, takes into account the characteristics of neighborhoods, landscape, particular problems that some pipes have versus others," Trustee Patrick Linnane said.

"I think it recognizes that throughout the village, the problem is not the same everywhere," he added. "I also think it's important to make a strong statement to people who are considering moving here, that we take care of business."

Engineering firms Strand Associates and Baxter Woodman should have designs completed soon that outline a new sanitary sewer pipe lining East Olive Street from North Wilson Drive to North Newhall Avenue; a new stormwater sewer that drains from Newhall Avenue to East Capitol Drive; and a sanitary sewer pipe that runs down East Kensington Boulevard.

Officials still need approval and permits from the state Department of Natural Resources before actually starting construction.

Within the scope of the $4.4 million in work, officials also approved seeking bids for sewer lining projects and replacement or repair of leaky private laterals, the sewer piping that connects homes to the sewer system, in the area west of Oakland Avenue and north of East Capitol Drive.

Shorewood already spelled out in the sewer plan, while North Downer Avenue road reconstruction projects were completed.

The projects are part of Shorewood’s comprehensive plan, which officials say after refining the numbers has dropped slightly from $34.4 to $32.4 million. All major projects are scheduled to wrap up by 2021.

An original plan had work stretching out as late as 2035 and 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 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 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.

Officials are still considering what mixture of funding sources to use in asking homeowners to pay for sewer improvements. Under consideration is the creation of a stormwater utility fund to pay for stormwater sewer improvements, as well as a mix of property taxes and sanitary utility fees.

Under current estimates, the owner of an average house assessed at $300,000 pays $2,048 in taxes from the village and a sanitary utility fee of $343. Property owners' bills would increase by $10 and would see that gradually increase by $146 over 26 years. The sanitary utility fee would increase by $74 by 2015 and $180 by 2025 before starting to wane. A stormwater utility fee, if created, would start out $12 the first year, steadily growing until peaking at $347 by 2025.

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 2021; and
  • 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.

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