Waukesha's largest well to be shut down for repairs beginning Jan. 2

WAUKESHA -- The Waukesha Water Utility (WWU) announced on Thursday, Dec. 20 that it will need to shut down its largest well, number 10, for repairs on Jan., 2, 2019. Officials say this will not affect Waukesha customers’ water service or water quality.

A news release indicates WWU is taking these steps to continue to effectively manage the water supply before a sustainable alternative is built and completed by 2023.

Well 10 provides 3.8 million gallons of water per day. Waukesha’s average water use is about 6 million gallons per day, but demand fluctuates with the seasons.

Utility General Manager Daniel Duchniak issued the following statement in the news release:

"We believe Well 10 is among the largest submersible pumps in the world. It is pumping water from over 600 feet below the surface. The pump will take about six months to repair."

A smaller well was also recently down for repairs. Well 8 required a 15-day shutdown for its own pump failure. This would have been much longer if the Utility did not have a required spare pump and motor on hand for installation in the case of an emergency. The problem at Well 10 began shortly before Well 8 came back online.

Waukesha is switching to Lake Michigan water due to the drawdown of its groundwater supply and the presence of naturally-occurring radium in the aquifers. The utility has six active wells that can meet temporary standards for radium. Four other wells are not regularly used due to radium problems.

The pumps generally last five years, but because of the significant use, the pumps are lasting only about two to three years. Since 2007, Waukesha Water Utility has experienced an average of one pump failure per year. Each failure costs between $150,000 and $300,000 to repair. With the latest problems, repair costs for all the wells will total about $2.5 million for that 11-year period.

The utility received permission from the Great Lakes governors to switch to Lake Michigan water under the Great Lakes Compact and is currently obtaining other needed permits. Three years of construction for the pipelines needed to access and then return the water will begin in 2020. To learn more, visit greatwateralliance.com.