Paddock Lake water system improvements: Who pays and how much?

Paddock Lake Water Utility District pumps 1 and 2. These pumps have been operating at the water utility since the late 1950s.

Mention of the impending Paddock Lake water system improvement project typically prompts two questions from village residents.

Who is paying for it and how much?

Those answers and more are addressed in a series of frequently answered questions recently posted by the village at its website, paddocklake.net.

Who is paying are properties already on the Paddock Lake Water Utility District water system, which are 290 customers on the east side of the lake. To be added by the project, set to begin construction this summer, are property owners adjacent to Highway 50, properties at the Highway 50 and 83/75 intersection (Brass Ball corners) and areas to the west and south of that intersection that are mostly undeveloped at this point, mostly lying along Highway F.

Property owners in the above group will be paying more on their water bills to fund the improvements. A Wisconsin Public Service Commission estimate describes it as a household using 4,000 gallons of water in a month would currently pay $25.35/month. With the added customers brought on from the improvement project the PSC estimates a 4,000 gallons of water in a month user would pay $66.41/month starting in 2021. That rate won’t be set for a while and could be lower if development brings more customers to spread project costs.

The village was not successful in obtaining a USDA grant for the project, but was able to get a 40-year, 2.375 percent interest USDA loan, village administrator Tim Popanda said.

No one in other areas of the village who have private wells will be connecting to, or paying for the water system improvements, Popanda stressed.

Property owners adjacent to Highway 50 will be compelled to connect to the water main that is going to be laid this summer to connect the east side water system with the water system that was started on the west side of the village but never completed when anticipated development stalled about 12 years ago. The village is borrowing the money for that work. That financing will be paid back by the property owners who will be able to pay it back over 10 to 15 years.

Popanda acknowledges the increase for water utility customers will be significant, but he also says the village has little choice but to update aged system components and that the current proposal was the least expensive of several options examined, including buying water from Kenosha, connecting to the Bristol water system and just doing the east side improvements without connecting the east and west side system with the Highway 50 water main.

Also, the village has not raised rates significantly in about 12 years anticipating that this project would eventually be done, likely when development seemed to be returning, which would allow the addition of more customers to help spread costs, Popanda said.

“I know this doesn’t really help the pain any,” Popanda said. Realistically rates could have been 35 to 40 percent higher by now if rates had been raised regularly, he said.

The project will include a new building for Wells No. 1 and No. 2 (east side), new well pumps, service pumps and water storage for fire protection, new chemical feed facilities, the Highway 50 main and standby power. The project will also allow the village to have fire hydrants in the utility district for fire protection. Current hydrants are for flushing purposes only. Storage will be provided by on ground storage. A water tower is not planned and is not even feasible for this size system, Popanda said.

The water system improvements are needed to update much of the infrastructure in the system that is original to the late 1950s system, Popanda. While the village has held off state Department of Natural Resources calls for upgrades in the past, the state is no longer willing to let the village off the hook.

“We have needed to do something for quite a while,” Popanda said. “We’re running on borrowed time on the pumps.” The two current pumps are original equipment from 1958.

The project is expected to be bid within the next month and work begin this construction season.

The DNR wants to inspect the underground water storage tank at the Paddock Lake Water Utility, but village officials are concerned that emptying it could cause it to collapse due to age.

A nameplate from the original underground water storage tank.

The Paddock Lake Water Utility building is actually two small buildings, one which housed the original pumps and equipment and a smaller building added later to house chlorine treatment equipment. The generator to the left is used in case of power outages, but has to be hooked into the system manually. A new building that is part of the project will house this equipment in one building and include automatic power switch over in case of an outage.

The yellow area shown on this map is the area that will be included in the Paddock Lake Water Utility District system after the improvement project is completed. Only people within the district will be paying for the improvement project. (click for a larger view)

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