Well project hidden in plain sight
Combine one industrial well house with one upscale neighborhood and controversy is the likely result.
But when the well house looks as good as any other house in the neighborhood, the neighbors have little to complain about.
Such was the case with Well No. 13 in Muskego, a well house indistinguishable from the luxury homes around it, thanks to careful planning by the city and Ruekert & Mielke Inc., Waukesha.
“It was a brand new subdivision, so we were able to do some preliminary geophysics when it was just a field,” said Scott Osborn, project engineer for Ruekert & Mielke. “We actually had an ‘X’ to mark the spot as they started to plat the subdivision.”
A major concern for the city, developers and neighbors was the look of the finished well. The city’s other pump stations have a much more industrial look, but the best locations for new wells are not always in industrial or municipal areas. The solution, Osborn said, was to use a catalogue façade to hide the building in plain sight.
“We took some site visits early on, looked at the two surrounding subdivisions and got a feel of what kind of subdivision it was going to be,” Osborn said. “We didn’t want it to be the best looking house in the neighborhood, but we didn’t want it to stand out like a sore thumb.”
The finished well house fits in with the $400,000 homes surrounding it. The 3,400-square-foot “house” has gabled rooflines, dormers, arched windows and professional landscaping.
Its function as a well is not compromised at all, however, Osborn said.
The building had to be a certain size in order to house the well and generator, he said, but due to iron levels in the water, an iron filtration system also had to be included, further complicating the inside layout.
The city was concerned with cost, but surprisingly, Osborn said, the adaptation of the building only added 3 percent to the total project cost of $1.6 million.
When the project was complete, Osborn said, he took his family through the subdivision to see if they could identify the well house.
“By the time we drove through the cul-de-sac and out,” he said, “everyone in the car said they didn’t know.”