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Waukesha Water Utility seeking contractors to build $286M Lake Michigan pipeline system

The Waukesha Water Utility is seeking contractors to bid on the first stages of a $286 million project to build a pipeline and other infrastructure needed to supply the city with water from Lake Michigan.

Officials this week announced they will hold a qualification meeting on June 25 for contractors that would build pumping and storage facilities in New Berlin, a 36-mile pipeline between Milwaukee and Waukesha and a 23-mile pipeline running from Waukesha’s water treatment plant to an outfall point in Franklin. Applications are due at the end of July.

The project, which has been in the works for years, would provide the city of Waukesha with water from Lake Michigan. The St. Peter Sandstone aquifer, which the city now relies on for water, is drying up and becoming contaminated.

The water utility plans to bid out the project in six packages and last year named Black & Veatch as the lead construction manager and Greeley and Hansen, a Chicago engineering firm, as the project’s lead designer. Utility officials aim to source 30 percent of contracts from Wisconsin-based companies, and 10 percent from minority-owned businesses.

Construction connects Milwaukee and Waukesha’s water treatment systems. Milwaukee officials in November 2017 approved an agreement allowing Waukesha access to lake water after the Great Lakes Compact Council, a group comprised of representatives of eight states that border the Great Lakes, signed off on the plan. The project is still working to secure needed permits from the state.

Waukesha’s prequalification process began this week when the water utility released information about the project on Wednesday. The utility is seeking general contractors and subcontractors to perform a range of jobs, including trench and excavation work, underground utilities installation, and electrical and plumbing work, among other tasks.

Construction is slated to begin on the project in 2020 and span three years. Waukesha must prove that construction is underway on all parts of the project and 50% complete by May 1, 2022, under a Department of Justice mandate.

The project begins by building a pumping station at 76th Street and West Oklahoma Avenue owned and operated by the Milwaukee Water Works to send water from Milwaukee to Waukesha. That job is not included in the utility’s prequalification process.

Under bid package No. 2, crews would build a 13-mile section of pipeline to carry water from the Milwaukee pumping station to Waukesha. That project is expected to cost up to $63 million.

Bid package three, which could cost up to $46.8 million, would build a booster pumping station and two reservoirs in the city of New Berlin, along with a water supply control building at East Sunset Avenue and Les Paul Parkway in Waukesha. To send treated water out of the city, bid package four would guide construction of a Return Flow Pumping Station at South Sentry Drive in Waukesha. That job isn’t subject to a prequalification requirement, either.

Finally, the water utility would break up a 23-mile pipeline running out of the city into two contracts. A 10-mile section of the pipeline is estimated to cost up to $39 million and another 12-mile section depositing treated water into the Root River in the city of Franklin could cost $64 million.

About Nate Beck

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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