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High court orders Milwaukee sewerage district to stop groundwater leaking

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s highest court told the Milwaukee sewerage district Thursday to stop the leaking of groundwater in the downtown area, so it does not enter the Deep Tunnel sewage system.

The owner of Milwaukee’s downtown Boston Store said the groundwater seepage damaged its buildings along Wisconsin Avenue, after they sunk due to wood that was rotting underneath.

In 2006, a jury told the Metro Sewerage District to pay $9 million to the store’s owner. A judge later reduced the award to $100,000, citing a legal limit on the damages that local governments can pay.

The Supreme Court ruled that the limit is constitutional – and the justices agreed with a second judge who ordered the district to build a concrete lining above its Deep Tunnel so there’s no more seepage from the downtown buildings.

An appeals court said the lining was not needed, but the Supreme Court reversed that decision. The justices told a circuit court to consider the best ways to install the necessary lining.