Rothschild gives green light to possible water partnership with Kronenwetter

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KRONENWETTER, Wis. (WSAW) -- The villages of Kronenwetter and Rothschild are working on a water partnership. Rothschild gave the green light to Kronenwetter this week to look into the possibility of purchasing water from Rothschild. The reason for the partnership is over water quality.

Rothschild has a water treatment facility, which is one reason the village may partner with Kronenwetter to help supply water.

"This has been an issue the village has been looking at for quite a while," Chris Johnson, Kronenwetter public works director said.

He explained residents have been contacting them about their water looking dirty. He urged these high levels are a cosmetic issue, not a risk to health at this level.

"We're slightly over the threshold that the EPA sets for manganese, and that's an aesthetic number," Johnson said. "That means that...you'd start to notice it in your toilet tanks, in your bath tubs."

He said black particles come from high levels of manganese, but the village also has high iron counts, which would look like rust-colored particles.

"We do feed a polyphosphate in that (well) that helps keep the manganese in suspension longer, but as water sits in the water mains or in toilet tanks, that does tend to fall out in suspension and residents can see that negative effects of the manganese," Johnson said.

So the village did a water quality study in 2014 and found those high levels, specifically in their second well. It did a water treatment plant study in 2017 to determine if that was a feasible option and learn what kind of impact treating the water would have on Kronenwetter residents.

"We've also been looking for an additional well site throughout this time as well and we haven't been successful in finding a well that will produce the quality and capacity that we're looking for," Johnson said.

In 2019 a consulting firm to look again at quality and what options would be available, including what it would take to connect Rothschild's water supply, which has its own treatment plant, to Kronenwetter residents.

"It's a win-win, I feel like, because it helps us and it helps Kronenwetter because then they won't have to build a treatment plant, get another well," Rothschild Village Administrator Gary Olsen said. "It should be a cheaper alternative for them also."

It also will bring in extra money to Rothschild. Before giving the go-ahead in the village board meeting, studies were conducted to ensure it had enough capacity to sell water, which it does. It also has better water quality, fixing the issue of high manganese and iron in Kronenwetter's water. Unlike Kronenwetter, Rothschild also does not have a lot of undeveloped lots to grow, meaning the water intake is largely already accounted for.

The 2019 study found it would cost Kronenwetter residents $23 more per quarter if it built its own treatment facility. It would increase costs by $4 per quarter if the two villages partnered.

"We believe that this would be a good fix to supply higher quality water to our residents as well as address some capacity issues that we'll be looking at in the near future," Johnson stated.

Kronenwetter sees about 50-75 new homes built in the village every year. Johnson said they have the capacity to supply the necessary water to residents, but they are nearing limits.

This project is still at the beginning stages. Kronenwetter has been meeting with the Department of Natural Resources and Public Service Commission. The two villages are also working on an agreement that ultimately needs to be approved by the Public Service Commission. Johnson expects, at the earliest, the purchasing of water could start in 2021 if the village ultimately decides to go through with it.

Kronenwetter also plans to have open house discussions with residents so they can weigh-in as well, but Johnson and the village administrator said they are happy to take questions if people have them. The timeline of the process is also available here, which includes the villages data and presentations.

This is not the first time Kronenwetter has shared water with Rothschild. The villages already have an emergency connection, should something go wrong, though it is not often used.

Rothschild board president, George Peterson said there was a partnership in the mid-90s when the Cedar Creek shopping center was being built, anticipating that the two villages may have to share water in the future.

"They have a water tower on their side of the corporate limits and we have one on our side," Peterson said. "Those two towers have the same overflow height. That was designed in so that we could share water without any real pressure problems."