Apartment Complex Owner to Pay $25,000 to Settle Environmental Lawsuit for Clean Water Supply Violations

For More Information Contact:
Brian Rieselman 608/266-1220
Wisconsin Department of Justice

Madison, WI – November 16, 2004
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced today that her office has settled a lawsuit filed in Waukesha County against the former owner of an apartment complex known as “The Villager,” located in Elm Grove, for violations of environmental laws governing community water supply systems. The Villager in Elm Grove, LLC, will pay a total of $25,000 in forfeitures and costs to settle the lawsuit.

The Villager housed approximately 96 residents and was served by a water supply system located on the property. The system was subject to construction and operation requirements designed to ensure that the water supply for the residents would be clean and safe.

“The defendant acquired the property in June of 1998, and failed to correct many violations that were in existence at the time the defendant bought the property,” Lautenschlager said. “When the defendant sold the apartment complex in December of 2003, the violations had still not been corrected.”

The Village of Elm Grove bought the complex as part of its flood control program. The buildings have since been razed and replaced with a storm water retention area, and the tenants have been relocated.

The Villager in Elm Grove violated the laws governing community water supply systems from June of 1998 through December of 2003 by:

Allowing the well that supplied the residents to be located outside and not in a locked shelter, with a dirt floor rather than the required concrete, and locating the floor of the pumping station below the regional flood level in an inaccessible installation;

Operating a community water supply well that had numerous construction violations, including a well casing that was too short, well discharge piping that was below the ground surface elevation, and inadequate venting of the well;

Failing to replace or repair the water system’s pressure tank and piping, which were badly rusted, pitted and corroded; and

Failing to provide a second well to ensure an adequate water supply, as is required for water supply systems that serve more than 50 living units.

“Owners of apartment complexes have the responsibility to comply with our water supply laws and to provide a water system that is clean, safe, and in good repair,” Lautenschlager said.

The Department of Justice brought the case at the request of the DNR. Assistant Attorney General Lorraine Stoltzfus represented the state. The settlement was approved by Waukesha County Circuit Judge Lee S. Dreyfus, Jr.