Today, a friend from Waukesha told me she would be getting water from Oak Creek in the near future. I was like, “Oak Creek beat out Milwaukee? I can’t believe Oak Creek can handle that.” She assured me the city could and that MKE lost out, even though she was still upset about the cost she’d incur to get water. Wrong and wrong, I found out later when I looked it up.
Bear in mind that I no longer live in Milwaukee, or else I would have known all the answers. Of course, that probably made this friend giggle, since she knew I’d be up in arms about Milwaukee losing out to Oak Creek. The fact is that Milwaukee kicked Oak Creek’s ass when it came to a water deal with Waukesha, and even the snobby Waukesha County elite couldn’t resist saving $40 million or over 10% to hook into the water from MKE rather than Oak Creek. It looks like the wholesale cost of water will also be ⅓ less for the MKE life-giving liquid. If there’s something I know about Waukesha County politicians, it’s that they don’t keep their jobs if they spend too much government money. So, no, Waukesha is not buying water from Oak Creek; it’s buying the water from Milwaukee. However, if Waukesha residents feel better about the purchase if they believe the water is from a fellow suburb of Milwaukee, that’s cool.
The other wrong remark is that it’s too expensive. The goal is to keep water prices at around $1000 a year for Waukesha residents hooking into what is basically contraband water, but the alternative is a freakin Kevin Costner post-apocalypse. Waukesha County water will kill you, if it hasn’t already, so it’s pretty hard to say $1000 to $1200 a year per household is too much. In fact, it’s hard for me to believe the MKE water won’t be ready until 2023. I’d be buying bottled water until then, and that’ll cost you a good $1000 per year, folks. That said, it won’t hurt my Milwaukee house resale value that it only costs me about $700 a year for water at my rental house there. Then again, why am I paying $700 when Waukesha’s been paying only $400 a year on average to drain the water supply and demand water from me?
My Waukesha friend had good reason to WANT to make me feel salty about the water deal, since when I initially assumed Milwaukee had won the contract, I suggested that the city overcharge Waukesha and lower my water bill. That was kind of mean, but it’s been a dream of mine for so long that Milwaukee would monopolize water sales across the region and cut my property taxes, like how folks in Alaska get money because of the oil. Water is, in fact, more valuable for life than oil--just ask Matt Damon. Anyhow, I am hoping that Milwaukee will slowly raise the prices to Waukesha and other suburbs, in a sneaky and quiet way, kind of like the radium poison the residents know all too well. The future of all the communities in the Radium Belt will be dictated by water, and the fact that Milwaukee will be delivering the water to these cities will hopefully result in lower water prices for me, but just as importantly, a reliance on the city that the suburbs have been able to avoid and flaunt. When folks in Sussex, Pewaukee, Brookfield, and other places affected by radium finally come asking, Milwaukee ought to be ready to negotiate some great deals. For me.
Doing a little research, I found it crazy that communities like Waukesha and Sussex tried to say that the federal standards for radium were too strict. It kills people, ladies and gentlemen. It’s also crazy that people with their own wells never test for radium because it costs $200. People who probably buy grass-fed cows’ milk and eat organic fruit. Don’t ignore this or pretend it’s not a problem. You can’t really be a rugged individualist making America great again when you’re dying of cancer caused by radium, and driving around in your giant pickup truck adorned with American flags doesn’t make you immune to radioactive poison. I’m just glad there’s finally a local problem that allows Milwaukeeans a chance to stand on their front porches and shake their heads at the relative helplessness and stupidity of the surrounding suburbs rather than the other way around, maybe for the first time in the last 30 years.