The City of Waukesha has dragged its feet for so long to respond to questions from environmental groups - - including the locally-based Waukesha Environmental Action League - - about the city's Lake Michigan diversion preparation that the apparent and imminent release of the answers rates a fairly lengthy news story, here.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Principally at issue in the diversion application, and thus in the answers will be a discussion of the costs - - environmental and fiscal - - of the city's plan to pipe away and dump treated Lake Michigan water miles away into Milwaukee County's Underwood Creek, and also the City's substantiation of its claim that relatively new conservation practices, and not heavy rainfall ot declining manufacturinh in the City are responsible for a drop in its municipal water pumpage.
You can read the questions and some discussion about them at another website, here, where they have sat for months in full view.
I expect every number, bit of data and claim-to-proof from the City to be closely examined by independent scientists as the process moves away from Waukesha to scrutiny by policy-makers and experts in all eight Great Lakes states - - a process likely to take several more years.
Look at this as the introduction to a very long book, or the first few lines in a long drama.
I further predict that Waukesha's probable return flow plan involving Underwood Creek will meet stiff resistance in Wauwatosa - - site of the new treated water discharge point - - and also deliberate and detailed scrutiny among legal reviewers in several Great Lakes states once they understand that in the Waukesha scheme, some Lake Michigan water will dumped into the Fox River/Mississippi River Watershed, thus lost permanently to Lake Michigan.
Not withstanding somehow that the entire point of the new Great Lakes Compact - - the eight-state legal agreement and cooperative structure which allows Waukesha's diversion application - - was to guarantee Great Lakes preservation.
Not to enable nimbly-crafted exemptions - - except in rare and last-resort situations.
Waukesha will try to shoehorn its plan into compliance with the Compact, and while Waukesha will argue the plan's merits, reviewers elsewhere are likely to be far tougher analysts.
And remember also - - Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources has yet to write the administrative rules governing a diversion application's content or format - - so Waukesha need not rush to get its paperwork together.
The state has given it until 2018 to get into compliance with water quality standards.
Maybe that's why it has taken five months for the City to get its answers together, and perhaps also the questions have helped Waukesha and the DNR sharpen the application and review process, too.