What's News in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

Water and Sewer Utilities
The Pleasant Prairie Water and Sewer Utilities are operated as “enterprise funds.” They are called enterprise funds, because they are operated like a business. These areas receive income from: fees charged for services provided, loans, grants, the resale of capital equipment and donations. This income is then used to cover operating expenses, large capital purchases or improvements, and to pay down debt for the particular enterprise or area.

Pleasant Prairie uses the enterprise fund structure for these areas to more fairly distribute the costs associated with the ventures to all who benefit from or have an impact on the enterprise. If the cost for operating these enterprises was included on your property tax bill, smaller residential users could be paying the same amount as larger industrial users, and some of the largest users (that are tax exempt) wouldn’t pay for the water service they receive at all. In early January, the Village Board considered and passed the 2013 budgets for the Water and Sewer Utilities.

When the Town of Pleasant Prairie established a water utility, the utility drew ground water from large community wells. After learning that the groundwater supply in much of the Village was contaminated with Radium in the late 1980s, Pleasant Prairie’s Water Utility turned to the Kenosha Water Utility to obtain a supply of safe drinking water drawn from Lake Michigan. In response to negotiations regarding a regional water utility, Pleasant Prairie began building water infrastructure that was sized to accommodate a regional utility.

The City of Kenosha later opted not to participate in a regional utility. Instead, the City took Pleasant Prairie on as a wholesale customer, charging the Village wholesale rates, as opposed to the retail rates charged to the City of Kenosha customers. During 2012, the Kenosha Water Utility requested approval from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) to raise water rates. This enabled the Village to request an intervention on behalf of its rate payers.

Pleasant Prairie’s Water Utility has hired a financial consulting firm and a law firm to assist in the review of the Kenosha Utility’s cost for providing water service to those in Pleasant Prairie. Village Administrator Mike Pollocoff explained, “On behalf of our residents, the Village would like to ensure that the rate being charged to Pleasant Prairie and its water customers is an appropriate amount related to the actual cost for Kenosha’s Water Utility to provide this service in Pleasant Prairie.” The PSC is expected to make a final decision regarding the Kenosha Utility’s rate increase this spring.

No water rate increases have yet been planned for the Pleasant Prairie Water Utility in 2013, however, any changes in the Kenosha Water Utility rates may affect Pleasant Prairie rate payers. The Utility will continue performing maintenance and updates to the system in efforts to keep it operating safely and as cost effectively as possible. Projects in 2013 will include: the interior and exterior painting of the water tower on 104th Street; the installation of a pressure reducing valve on Sheridan Road south of 104th Street; replace controls for a pump at the Sheridan Road booster station; upgrade 360 additional water meters with a remote read function; and related water meter upgrades.

On the last day of 2010, the Pleasant Prairie Sewer Utility retired its remaining sewer treatment plants. The plants were retired, according to an agreement made in the late 1980s that secured safe (radium free) drinking water from Lake Michigan for the western half of Pleasant Prairie. Since their retirement, all of the wastewater generated in Pleasant Prairie is transported to the Kenosha Water Utility through many miles of sanitary sewer infrastructure for treatment and its eventual return to Lake Michigan. Throughout a given year, utility employees perform testing and maintenance on more than 110 miles of sewer main and nearly 20 lift stations that help move waste efficiently and safely through the system to the Kenosha Utility.

No sewer rate increases have been planned for the Pleasant Prairie Sewer Utility in 2013. During 2013, the Utility will continue performing maintenance and updates to the system in efforts to keep it operating as efficiently as possible. Staff will continue to work to improve energy efficiency at the lift stations and to reduce the amount of inflow and infiltration that leaks into the sewer system and results in higher treatment costs.

More information related to the 2013 Water and Sewer Utility budgets is available here by viewing the January 7 Village board e-packet.

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