Lake Michigan water to Waukesha, tower bowl lifted into position

A project decades in the making, Waukesha is now one step closer to drinking Lake Michigan water.

The tower bowl, or tank, is up after a six-hour journey to the top of the tower near Les Paul and Broadway. Mayor Shawn Reilly said it is part of the city's largest, most expensive municipal infrastructure project in generations.

"It’s going up about 120 feet. The bowl itself weighs about 300,000 pounds," said Dan Duchniak, Waukesha Water Utility's general manager.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

"A water tower is what provides you pressure at your house," Duchniak explained. "We pump to make sure there is a certain volume or height of water within that tower.  If there’s a certain amount – then we know we have adequate pressure."

The tower and surrounding pumping station are part of Waukesha's historic $286 million water diversion project. Lake Michigan water will soon flow through its pipes.

Image 1 of 3

Construction of Waukesha water tower

"Basically, the wells are not sustainable themselves – about two decades ago a decision was made that we have to find a new solution to our Waukesha water," said Reilly.

While safe to drink, Reilly said the city's groundwater supply does not fully meet federal radium standards. However, it's the cost of the project to homeowners and businesses that may be hard to swallow.

"We have always said since the beginning of this project that our rates are going to double – or triple – over the course of doing this project," Duchniak said.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android.

John Kavalauskas watched construction from his driveway Tuesday. He's not thrilled about the bill and might stick to bottled water.

"I’ll look into it. I’ll do my testing. But I’m still skeptical," he said.

Waukesha is under a court order to start using Lake Michigan by September. The city said the project is ahead of schedule and slightly under budget. Waukesha also purchased roughly 20 acres of land at the site and has plans for a park and walking trails.