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Ask Now: Are well owners hooked up to city water required to get permit?

Whether or not residents are hooked up to the city of Brookfield's municipal water system is a factor on the maintenance required for private wells.

Whether or not residents are hooked up to the city of Brookfield's municipal water system is a factor on the maintenance required for private wells. Photo By submitted photo

Aug. 12, 2014

Is there a rumor you'd like tracked down? Geoff Bruce answers some of the mysteries of life in Brookfield and Elm Grove and helps solve everyday problems.

A resident asks: There is a rumor that in the city of Brookfield people who only have private wells do not have to have their water tested and get a permit. However, those who have city water but kept their wells for outside use must have their water tested every five years and get a permit. Is that true? If so, why do they need a permit for outside use only when they don't drink or cook with the well water?

Answer: It is true that people who have hooked up to the city of Brookfield's municipal water system and also elected to keep their own wells operational are subject to additional costs.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requires citizens who have both maintained their wells and also hooked up to city water to have their wells inspected and to obtain a permit.

"It's an unusual part of the DNR code, but when you convert to city water, you either have to abandon your well or you have to prove that it's potable," City of Brookfield Director of Public Works Tom Grisa said. "Therefore, the way to prove it's potable is to get the testing."

City of Brookfield Zoning and Building Administrator Larry Goudy says the reason for the extra requirements is to provide prevent potential contamination of the city's water supply.

"When you switch to city water, an inspector has to come in and make sure that your well is disconnected," Goudy said. "It's to make sure that if your well becomes contaminated, it can't contaminate the city water supply."

While residents who have yet to hook up to city water are not yet required to have their private wells inspected, Grisa thinks that inspections should be considered by all.

"The reality is that even though people say they don't have to test it, every time they drink it, they're testing it," Grisa said. "It's much better to have it tested in a lab and ensure it's good than to test it in your stomach and have it be bad."

Municipal water is now available to 78 percent of the city. Residents who live in a neighborhood where city water is available have 10 years from the completion of the water main to hook up.

Email your questions to Geoff Bruce at gbruce@jrn.com.

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