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NEW BERLIN - The City of New Berlin has agreed to pay $45,000 to settle state claims brought under Wisconsin's drinking water laws.
Wisconsin is required to administer a safe drinking water program no less stringent than federal safe drinking water standards. As part of that program, Wisconsin law sets forth contaminant levels and other requirements for public water systems. The maximum contaminant level for radionuclides (radium) was set in 1983, and pursuant to an agreement negotiated with USEPA, community water systems were required to comply with that level by December 2006.
According to the complaint, the City of New Berlin water system failed to provide drinking water that at all times complied with the contaminant level for radium since at least 2002. According to the stipulation that was filed settling the case, the City achieved compliance in July 2009 by diverting water from Lake Michigan to serve the entire city, including those parts of the city that had previously been served by wells with radium-noncompliant water. In addition, the City approved a water conservation plan as part of meeting the water conservation objective set forth in its diversion application approval.
Long-term exposure to elevated levels of radium in drinking water poses a higher risk of bone cancer for the people exposed. In announcing the settlement, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen recognized the City's commitment to ensuring the provision of safe drinking water. "The citizens of our state must be assured that their drinking water meets state standards, and the City of New Berlin has taken the steps necessary to achieve compliance with those standards."
Assistant Attorney General JoAnne F. Kloppenburg prosecuted the case. Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez approved the settlement.