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Contract finalized to send Lake Michigan water to Waukesha

NOW: Contract finalized to send Lake Michigan water to Waukesha

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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly finalized a deal Wednesday to pump Lake Michigan water from Milwaukee to Waukesha for the next 40 years.

Waukesha leaders say the deal was 15 years in the making, but they eventually got the governors from all 8 great lakes states to sign off on them receiving the water.

Milwaukee is expected to make tens of millions of dollars off the deal, starting at about $3 million in water sales the first year.

Reilly says Waukesha residents can expect their water rates to nearly triple, but it's not as expensive as it would have been, had they made the deal with Oak Creek, and they needed to do something about their radium-contaminated water.

"Each residential house is expected to save about $200 per year over what it would have otherwise been. We're going to get water that's not contaminated with radium," Reilly said.

Milwaukee will pay $15-20 million on the infrastructure to pump the water, but Mayor Barrett says the money from sales will more than pay for the piping.

"This really is a classic win-win," Barrett said. "They're getting at a less expensive price. We're able to use some of our excess capacity, and they're getting some really good drinking water."

Construction on the pipeline is expected to begin in 2019. Leaders from both cities want the water to be flowing by 2023.

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