News Briefs: Milwaukee’s Water Utility Head Moves On

In this week’s news briefs, Milwaukee’s longtime water superintendent leaves for a job in Maine, and New York lawmakers push for a bill that would create a formula-based program for distributing water and sewer infrastructure funds.
News Briefs: Milwaukee’s Water Utility Head Moves On

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Milwaukee Water Works must begin a search for a new superintendent now that its longtime head, Carrie Lewis, has moved on to another utility.

Lewis came on board as the utility’s water quality manager — the first to hold that position — in 1995, two years after Milwaukee dealt with a severe cryptosporidium outbreak.

“I was the first water quality manager and both the utility and the city were quite terrified,” Lewis told the Milwaukee Business Journal. “I am really proud of getting confidence back in the Milwaukee Water Works.”

In 1997, Lewis was named superintendent. Most recently she has been spearheading efforts to replace lead service lines in Milwaukee, which has about half of the lead lines in all of Wisconsin. She says the decision to become head of the water district in Portland, Maine, is not because of the extensive lead pipe issues the utility will be dealing with in the coming years. She is from the New England area originally and says the new job puts her closer to family.

“It really is a huge factor,” Lewis told the Milwaukee Business Journal. “I wouldn’t be going otherwise.”

Source: Milwaukee Business Journal

Bill Would Restructure Iowa Water Utility
Iowa lawmakers are pushing for a bill that would replace Des Moines Water Works with a regional water authority controlled by municipalities.

Des Moines Water Works is a public utility established in 1919 to provide water to Des Moines residents, and it has since grown to serve 500,000 customers in central Iowa. It operates three water treatment facilities and maintains 1,360 miles of water mains. According to a report in the Des Moines Register, the proposed bill would dismantle the utility’s five-member board that is appointed by the Des Moines mayor and establish a regional board appointed by Des Moines and surrounding municipalities.

“Because of the growth of suburban communities, we need to revisit the governance model and we need to rethink it,” Des Moines council member Christine Hensley told the Register.

According to a report from the Iowa Partnership for Clean Water, 60 percent of the water flowing through the utility’s infrastructure serves customers outside the Des Moines city limits.

Source: Des Moines Register

Indiana City Takes on CSOs with Major Tunnel Project
The city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is preparing for the city’s largest and most expensive public works project ever, which when complete will reduce CSOs by 90 percent.

Five companies recently submitted bids for the Deep Rock Tunnel, a 5-mile-long, 16-foot-diameter pipe that will cut overflows by 900 million gallons a year. Construction is expected to get underway on the $200 million project this year and be complete by 2021.

“This is the biggest investment that we have ever made in public infrastructure in our city in its history and it represents decades of interaction with the federal government, with local and state government, and the EPA and other regulators,” Fort Wayne Utilities Director Kumar Menon told “For our community what it means is more relief from street flooding, less pollution in our rivers, and a cleaner environment for all of us.”


New York Lawmakers Push for Formula-Based Infrastructure Funding
Legislation is circulating in the New York Senate and Assembly that would alter the way the state distributes some water and sewer funds.

In the past, funds have been given out to communities on an as-needed basis, largely through grant programs. But under the proposed Safe Water Infrastructure Action Program, a weighted formula would be used to administer funding based on the miles of pipe a community has. The bill’s sponsor in the Assembly, Phil Steck, told Time Warner Cable News that a formulaic approach will help aging upstate cities that have lost residents. For example, Schenectady boasts a population of 65,000, but much of the underground infrastructure was built at a time when the population hovered around 130,000.

“In cities like Schenectady, which I represent, you have extensive infrastructure that has to be maintained, even though the population is smaller,” Steck says.

The bill failed to gain traction in 2016, but lawmakers supporting it hope that changes. If it passes, there would be $438.1 million available statewide, the same amount as a similar formula-based program used for funding road projects.

Source: Time Warner Cable News


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