NEW Water has developed a Facility Plan, primarily focused on the liquids treatment processes at the Green Bay and De Pere treatment facilities, and has submitted the plan to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for review. This plan is intended to meet current and future needs to ensure continued reliability of service for the community we serve.
It is a long-term, comprehensive study to assess the condition of a sewerage system and evaluate what is needed to ensure nonstop wastewater conveyance and treatment services for the community it serves. This significant study will result in a comprehensive plan document, the result of many hours of work, analysis, and assessments by a large team with many areas of expertise in clean water services.
In Wisconsin, a Facility Plan is submitted to the DNR for final approval. This plan will serve to guide the implementation of significant capital projects for years to come. Learn more about this process on the .
NEW Water serves approximately 238,000 people in Northeast Wisconsin, which includes families, schools, visitors, businesses, and industries. Water is essential to public health, to our way of life, and to support economic development. Businesses, industries, and people all need water to survive and thrive. And that water needs to go somewhere to be cleaned, processed, and returned safely to the environment. Long-term planning ensures that the communities served by NEW Water can flush the toilet, do their laundry, and run their businesses whenever they want. It also ensures we can meet future residential, commercial, and economic development growth needs of the communities we serve.
First, a Facility Plan is a requirement through the Wisconsin DNR. Additionally, it is a responsible approach to ensure nonstop service to support economic development, residential growth, and public health.
Our infrastructure – that is, the pipes, pumps, basins, and 1000s of other assets and equipment that it takes to operate wastewater services 24-7-365 – is aging. “Doing nothing,” or long-term deferral of projects, is not an option, as much of this infrastructure could fail or become too costly to repair and maintain.
NEW Water is committed to meeting permit requirements to send clean water back into the river each day – approximately 14 billion gallons in 2021 – and to protecting public health. Much of our infrastructure will not meet the anticipated future capacity demands and has reached the end of its useful life - as most of it was built in the 1970s and 1980s.
For projects identified in the Facility Plan, which will be phased-in over the next 20 years, the investment needed is approximately $245 million - $370 million.
Looking at the whole picture, which includes operations and maintenance costs and an interceptor system*, what revenue increases does NEW Water project will be needed in order to allow the community to continue use this nonstop service?
It is projected that revenue increases of approximately 5.5% - 7% each year for 10 years will be needed to fund critical projects, capital needs, operations, and maintenance.
* What’s an interceptor system? It’s a network of underground and above ground assets, equipment, Information Technology, and pipes, which brings wastewater from people’s homes, businesses, and industries, to NEW Water’s two treatment facilities to be cleaned. The system contains 7 miles of interplant forcemain pipes, 13 lift stations, 13 wet wells, 27 pumps, 29 meter stations, 31 miles of forcemain pipes, 78 miles of gravity pipes, and 1,206 manhole structures throughout a 285-square mile area, see the map here, and learn more here.
To manage cost impacts, NEW Water is developing a Strategic Financial Plan in conjunction with the Facility Plan. The Strategic Financial Plan is a process to help mitigate large rate increases in any given year by forecasting future revenue requirements, evaluating the need for building and using capital reserves, as well as evaluating alternative project funding approaches.
Costs are reviewed during the annual budgeting process. Additionally, as part of the annual budgeting process, individual projects require design work, and ultimately, approval. The NEW Water Team is working to prioritize projects, and plan them over the course of the coming years to manage the financial impact.
Due to its strong financial health, NEW Water has earned an AAA Moody’s rating, which enables NEW Water to utilize General Obligation Bonds to keep costs down. Recently NEW Water refinanced two GO bonds, which resulted in an annual savings for ratepayers of $225,000.
Additionally, NEW Water actively seeks Clean Water Fund Loans through the State of Wisconsin, which allows NEW Water to borrow money at subsidized interest rates; 55% of the market rate. In order to participate in the Clean Water Fund program, NEW Water is required to complete Facility Plans.
Additional cost saving measures at NEW Water include: actively seeking grants to offset costs, pursuing Adaptive Management to achieve permit compliance cost-effectively, and a Lean Committee which finds and implements cost saving measures and efficiencies.
NEW Water is also actively working to understand the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (which will bring grant money to the State of Wisconsin) and the requirements for grant fund eligibility.
An Expense Impact metric helps NEW Water measure how rate increases will impact a family, allowing NEW Water to develop a “typical household cost” for NEW Water services.
It is important to note that NEW Water is a wholesale provider of services to 15 municipal partners and does not bill residents directly. Therefore, this example does not include costs a community typically includes in a resident’s bill, for example, to operate and maintain the neighborhood sewer systems*.
A “typical cost” model is commonly used by municipalities, school districts, and other sewerage districts to help people understand how rate increases may impact them. NEW Water will update and evaluate this Expense Impact metric each year for impacts to a typical household.
* NEW Water’s 15 municipal customers can be found at this link. NEW Water charges the same rates to all municipal customers. As such, NEW Water bills each municipality based on their usage of the system; each municipality bills their residents to also cover their costs, which typically includes operations and maintenance of the municipality’s sewer systems. The example provided here is for illustrative purposes, and concerns only the NEW Water cost for wastewater treatment services (this does not include purchase of potable water, for example). These numbers come from NEW Water data. Cost was calculated based off of 82 gallons per person, per day, and a 3-member family to represent a “typical household.” This average water usage is also used by the .
Watch the video from the Public Information Meeting.