Bristol Village Board hears complaints about Lake George flooding

The Bristol Village Board heard complaints Monday about recent flooding in the Lake George neighborhood and acknowledged that communication from the village standpoint could be better.

About 10 residents attended the regular Village Board meeting Monday to voice concerns and ask questions of village officials.

The Lake George neighborhood was one of many in Western Kenosha County that saw worse flooding than typical after heavy rain July 11 and 12.

Residents on the east side of the neighborhood told the board about water in their homes and their yards, some of which appeared to be contaminated with sewage.

“Basically, the village dumped sewage onto people’s properties that surrounds the pump station and that just ensured we can no longer use our yard the remainder of the summer,” said Lake George resident Walter Fisher. “The smell alone is enough to make you sick.”

Village administrator Randy Kerkman acknowledged the village bypassed a lift station and discharged sewage onto a private property which then flowed into the Dutch Gap, not into yards. Other area municipalities took similar action to avoid overloading sewer treatment plants.

“What we pumped did not flow into people’s yards,” Kerkman said. “What we pumped went into the Dutch Gap canal.”

Water has not receded as fast as possible around flooded homes, Kerkman also acknowledged, due to restriction in flow down stream, perhaps from blocked culverts or beaver dams.

“We’re working at these problems the best we can,” Kerkman said. “It’s a lot of water that came down in a short period of time.”

A reoccurring sticking point for the audience members was poor communications by the village.

“At the end of the day it was the communication that was an epic failure on the part of this village,” Fisher said.

That communication could be better seemed to resonate with some board members, who seemed to be open to trying other communication methods in emergency situations such as email lists or automated phone calls or even posting of signs with updates. Trustee John McCabe offered to meet with neighborhood representatives to help identify problems and solutions. Trustee Colleen Fisch said the village needed to do a better job of providing public safety to residents.

“I understand that we have done our legal obligation, but our legal obligation doesn’t necessarily make these people feel better,” Fisch said. “These people very much felt abandoned … as far as they knew, no one cared. It’s not that we did anything wrong, we just didn’t do anything right.”

As one step to heighten the presence of the village providing public safety, Fisch suggested a public works truck and crew or fire department vehicle be stationed in the neighborhood as a reassuring presence when disaster strikes again.

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