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Weather plays role in cities' services

New Berlin sprinkling ban helped get wells back to nearly normal

Aug. 6, 2012

As it turns out, what road construction crews gained this summer from dry weather they lost from in interruptions tied to unrelenting 90- and 100-degree heat.

"The heat is an obstacle almost equivalent to what rain would be," said David Simpson, Muskego director of public works.

Workers had to go home earlier if it was too hot to work with the sun beating down, he said.

At one site, a worker had to go to the hospital with heat exhaustion, he said.

But road projects in both New Berlin and Muskego are doing well with no delays because of the lack of rain.

New Berlin City Engineer J.P. Walker said, "There haven't been any weather-related delays" all summer.

The only noticeable impact the heat and drought have had on construction schedules is that grass planting has been pushed back, Walker said.

But the drought has caused difficulty providing water to New Berlin residents and businesses.

Utility officials worried that the gush of water that flowed to homes and businesses could not be replaced overnight in the city's three water towers and four reservoirs in time for the onslaught the next day.

"We couldn't fill up the reserves at night," said Jim Hart, water utility supervisor.

The city was pumping out 5.5 million gallons a day.

"In 25 years, that's the most pumping I've seen," Hart said.

Normal summer use is more like 3.8 million gallons a day, he said.

So, the city started enforcing its lawn sprinkling restrictions and the situation soon came back to near normal, he said.

There was no sprinkling ban in Muskego, where the city's 10 wells have been able to keep up with demand, said Scott Kloskowski, utility superintendent. The two new wells that the water utility drilled two and four years ago turned out to be overproducers and help keep the three towers filled up, he said.

Pumping peaked at 2.8 million gallons per day, compared with 1.2 to 1.3 million gallons per day in normal summers, Kloskowski said.

The weather may have added to the activity at the New Berlin Library.

The number of visits to the library jumped nearly 18 percent in June and continued above last year in July, said Director Dennis Sampson. So far this year, the library has recorded 16 days with more than 1,000 visits, he said. Last year there were 14 such days all year, he said.

Muskego residents seeking to beat the heat at the library faced an obstacle: the Janesville Road project. Not only has access often been difficult, but access was cut off from Janesville Road for an entire week, said Library Director Pete Loeffel. Patrons can get in a back way, but not everybody knows about it, he said.

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