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Nearly 400 Homeowners Will Be Billed for Sewer Lateral Fixes

Nearly all of the 386 sewer laterals inspected in the southern edge of the village will require repairs that will be assessed to the homeowner. Estimated costs are $2,000-$8,000 each.

Nearly 400 homeowners in the southern portion of the village will be billed about $2,000-$8,000 by the village next year for the repair or replacement of their sanitary sewer lateral.

After investigating 386 sewer laterals in the flood-prone area of the village, contractors found evidence of root intrusion and/or mineral deposits in 90 percent of the laterals. Only 1 or 2 percent of the laterals are in good condition, according to a memo from Assistant Village Engineer Aaron Jahncke.

Whitefish Bay trustees last week reaffirmed their intentions to line or replace those damaged laterals, and then bill the homeowner for the repairs. The village will bid for contractors in January, and work is expected to start in March.

Homeowners in the affected area will soon be receiving a letter from the village with a copy of their lateral inspection report and a description of what work will need to be done to fix their lateral.  

Village Engineer Dan Naze said lateral lining could cost $2,000 to $3,000, and lateral replacement could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000, in cases where contractors need to excavate the lateral from under the foundation.

Naze said the costs ultimately depend on the unique circumstances of each individual house.

"This isn’t one project," Naze said. "This is going to end up being 386 different projects."

The village will hold two public information meetings about the lateral rehabilitation project in December. Homeowners will also have the opportunity to see video of their lateral by coming to a meeting or making an appointment with the engineering department.

The village contracted with Expediters, an Oconomowoc-based company, in August to televise the sanitary laterals of 390 homes in the southwestern basin. Naze said the inspection work will be fully reimbursed by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District by the end of the year. 

This project will provide the village with data on the effectiveness of tightening leaky laterals, as well as identify what volume of clear water can be attributed to leaky laterals versus foundation drains.

The Village Board will decide in the future whether a similar lateral inspection and rehabilitation project should be pursued in other areas of the village.

Mark Easterday December 10, 2012 at 09:46 PM
It seems that the Whitefish Bay Village Board has chosen 400 homeowners to cover the cost of an expensive experiment that may or may not be effective in resolving flooding issues. Wauwatosa is conducting a similar pilot program. However, the full cost of lining the sewer laterals for those 135 homes will be financed by the village and $500,000 from MMSD. This is a village wide issue. A select group of homeowners shouldn't be responsible for covering the cost.
Jon Isaacson May 01, 2013 at 07:04 PM
There seems to be a fault in the logic here. Infiltration from a storm event will have a time lag to get into sewer collection laterals, which are often 6-10' beneath the surface. The leakage won't start during the storm, but a few days after the event, and the peak flows (possible flooding), have already occurred. So in the end, this won't have much of an effect on the number of overflows to the lake. The only thing it might do is reduce the maintenance pumping cost to keep the storage system empty prior to the rain event. So in essence, the money spent here can be likened to having a fixed budget to insulate an uninsulated house to reduce bills, and spending all of the money insulating the walls, whilst the majority of the heat escapes through the ceiling/roof, and wondering why all the money you spent only effected the outcome (bill) in a very slight way. With budget, you address the items that will impact your outcome the most FIRST, then come back for the other stuff later.
Jon Isaacson May 02, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Looking over the CIP program presentation, slide 5, of the listed contributors to clear water in the sanitary lines listed under the private connection bullet, sewer laterals offers the lowest amount of inflow out of all that are listed during a storm event. The Bay would be better served if it first addressed 1) illegal downspout connections and 2) perhaps getting the rest of the homes that still have a foundation drain connected to the santiary off of them. Since they appear to have no problem imposing costs on individual homeowners, they could have either incentivised this by imposing a water bill fee to encourage homeowners to make the disconnection, or come up with some other way to get the drain off of the sanitary system. The point about private drains connected to sanitary sewers is pretty vague, but perhaps that is referring to driveway and garage floor drains. I doubt garage floor drains are contributing much if this is what they meant. The point here is they are addressing the wrong contributor here, at high cost, to individual homeowners, and again, it appears to be the lowest contributor to clearwater in the sanitaries. We have until May 17 to get the to rethink the issue before they put it out to bid. After that, there may be no turning around from this mistake.
Kevin Buckley May 02, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Hey, Jon. I was on the board when this came up. In the end, I lobbied against this lateral plan for many of the same reasons you state above. The argument that won the day was the concept that .. nearly every private lateral in Bay is 80+ years old, clay pipe that's undoubtedly cracked by now. While no one likes to maintain these, at some point, every single lateral has to be replaced. About the best argument is "let's do it at 100 years instead!" But as you said .. laterals are buried deeper, and the water from rain events don't get to them instantly, it takes hours for the water to seep down. It is possible (and I argued very likely) that once these 400 homes are repaired, the test results will not show the kind of massive improvement we need / the improvement that requiring sump pumps would yield. The Board was unwilling to force homeowners to go through the bigger hassle of having their basements ripped up for sumps. As for illegal downspout connections .. last year the village had an engineer walk the entire village looking for them and compiled a list to follow up. There are indeed some, and they have been/are being addressed.
Rob Munger June 02, 2013 at 06:20 PM
The Village Board will be voting on June 3rd to move ahead with this project. Per Wisconsin Statutes the Village Engineer must provide a report listing the cost and benefits of this work. There will be a public hearing on July1st. Please ask the Board for accountability.

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