Wisconsin will have to alter water access

originally posted on April 3, 2017


source, Waukesha could no longer rely on the radium-laced aquifer that has served it for so long.

A panel of governors on a Great Lakes regional council on June 21 has approved a request from Waukesha to divert water from Lake Michigan.

“That’s an area where I suspect that we all have a lot of work left to do – to make sure that the State of Wisconsin and the City of Waukesha are protecting that river and those communities”, said Molly Flanagan with the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

In the months leading up to the historic vote, 38,000 citizens from around the Great Lakes basin offered their opinions on the request – 99 percent of which opposed Waukesha’s request.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said he’s pleased with the outcome.

This was the first major test for the Great Lakes Compact, which was enacted in 2008 to have control of water diversion from the Great Lakes.

The city applied for the diversion in 2010, and state regulators reviewed the request for six years before passage on Tuesday. That’s what the compact was designed on, looking at the population the Great Lakes feed in both the USA and Canada. Our families and employers need a new water supply.

Waukesha’s plan is to buy water from Oak Creek which would then pipeline the water west. Waukesha would use the water, treat the water, then send it back to the Lake via the Root River in Racine.

It was among many springs in the city that once provided most of Waukesha’s drinking water.

Just before 2 p.m., delegates for the governors of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and NY gave their unanimous consent during a during a Tuesday, June 21 meeting of the Great Lakes Compact council. All Great Lakes states will be able to audit the community’s compliance, and environmental monitoring and mandatory reporting will be enforced.

In fact Dingell and Miller charge that the decision to divert water to Waukesha undermines the entire Compact agreement. Waukesha plans to buy its water from Oak Creek and return almost 100 percent it, after treatment, to the lake via the Root River.

The compact largely forbids water to be exported outside of the Great Lakes basin, with two exceptions – for cities that straddle the watershed, or cities located in counties that straddle the line where water on one side flows into the Great Lakes, water on the other side into the Mississippi River. “It is key that Great Lakes advocates and the Compact Council remain heavily engaged in this process to ensure that the requirements under the Great Lakes Compact and specific conditions are enforced and the integrity of the Great Lakes Compact is upheld”.

The mayor also praised the Waukesha Common Council, the Waukesha Water Utility Commission and Waukesha Water Utility staff. “Waukesha investigated all our alternatives”.

The compact also established that any one governor could sink a request for water diversion.

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