WATER & SEWER UTILITY HISTORY
The first city water customers were A.C. Spark Plug Co., Edgewood School, a fire station and two residences. In those early years A.C. Spark Plug Co. purchased as much as 97 percent of the water produced by the system.
In 1960, Mayor Art Abendschein and members of the Common Council decided existing City wells could not keep up with the continuing growth being brought on by residential, commercial, and industrial expansion. Mayor Abendschein continually suggested the use of an abandoned intake line as the beginning of a new lake water system. The 30-inch intake line was built in 1914 by the Newport Chemical Company. In the same year the Common Council authorized the preparation of a master plan for water supply and created a board of waterworks and sewer commissioners to carry out the plan.
Early investigations for the master plan found the intake required only a few repairs to become suitable for operation.
The rapid population growth, predicted in the master plan, did not materialize as expected because of the long delays encountered with the completion of the Metropolitan Sewer System. With no sewers to handle expanded water production, Lake Michigan construction was deferred.
Meanwhile land acquisitions were made. Upon request the Allis-Chalmers Company donated their ownership of the 30-inch intake line, the low-lift station site and part of the property that is now the lake access road.
On November 1, 1974 Mayor Don Hermann turned off the main power switch for the well water system at the treatment plant. A crowd had gathered for the occasion and three television stations had cameras focused on the action. Apprehensively, Mayor Hermann turned on the lake supply main power switch. The low lift pumps at the lake front inhaled their first draught of Lake Michigan water. Lights blinked on in an orderly sequence on the main control panel as the new charge of water raced to fill the raw water transmission line, the filters, the reservoir and then into the arteries and veins of the City distribution system. And the system has been on without incident, ever since.
The 1999 expansion increased water treatment capacity, as well, as adding many state of the art features. These include, new chemical feed and mixing facilities, inclined plate settlers that optimize water quality prior to filtering, filter-to-waste capabilities on all filters, and a new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System. The latter feature allows the operator to monitor and control all operations from a single location.
The treatment plant is set up for easy future expansion, when needed. These features help Oak Creek produce some of the finest quality water in the world. With careful planning, the Oak Creek Water and Sewer Utility will continue to provide excellent customer service and abundant, safe water for a healthy community.