Water pipeline clears PSC assessment
Written by Green Bay Press-Gazette   
Sunday, 06 March 2005 02:59
The state Public Service Commission says a proposed 65-mile water pipeline from Manitowoc to Brown County shouldn?t pose significant environmental impacts.

The PSC?s preliminary determination ? which means a lengthy environmental impact statement is not needed ? should help keep the project on schedule, said Joe Linssen of Ledgeview, vice president of the Central Brown County Water Authority.

?We?re pleased with the determination,? Linssen said. ?This will save the authority a significant amount of money and will help the project move forward on the present timeline.?

The authority is seeking construction bids on the first two segments of the pipeline and hopes to have bonding and permits approved in May. Construction is expected to begin in early summer, with drinking water flowing to the suburban communities in 2006.

The six-member authority ? Allouez, Bellevue, De Pere, Howard, Lawrence and Ledgeview ? has agreed to have Lake Michigan water pumped from Manitowoc?s water utility to ease reliance on a dwindling and contaminated groundwater supply. The suburbs face a December 2006 deadline to adequately address the problem.

The latest estimates peg the total cost at $119 million.

About 63 miles of the 65-mile route of the water main would be within existing road rights of way. Construction of the pipeline will require excavation of a trench up to 11 feet deep and up to 8 feet wide, according to the assessment by Kathleen Zuelsdorff, environmental review coordinator for the PSC.

The proposed route is along the County R right of way in Manitowoc and Brown counties before connecting to the distribution network along Pine Grove Road in Ledgeview. The Brown County network of pipes also will follow public rights-of-way along streets and county highways. It will travel west into De Pere, across the Fox River, then north mostly along Pine Tree and Hillcrest roads to Howard. Along the way, smaller sections jut off to serve the suburbs that are members of the authority.

The proposed water main will cross 70 streams and rivers. The authority proposes to install the water main below the Fox and Manitowoc rivers using a tunnel-boring technique that should not disturb the riverbeds.

The construction will result in minor short-term increases in noise, vibrations, air-quality degradations, odors, erosion and runoff, the PSC said in its environmental assessment.

Linssen said the authority planned ?a route using areas that were disturbed previously for roads wherever we could.?

The PSC noted that the authority plans to provide protection for the environment both during and after construction. Some methods include erosion control, trench cut-off barriers, reseeding, topsoil removal, invasive species management, vegetative buffers and dewatering measures.

The pipeline needs approval from the PSC, state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

?The DNR has its own permitting process, but we are sharing information with them and working closely together,? said PSC spokeswoman Linda Barth. ?We are aware these communities need a new water system.?

Wisconsin Act 89, which became law in December, requires the PSC and DNR to work together to expedite permitting of power plants, electric transmission lines, natural gas pipelines and other projects likely to impact the environment.

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