Well, better late than never.
The Journal Sentinel finally gets around to reporting that Milwaukee officials in writing asked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to please write rules governing Great Lakes diversions before approving them.
That fact, and a link to the letter, was supplied by this blog five days ago.
But the delay in reporting has an upside: Darryl Enriquez found a DNR official, Bruce Baker, saying the DNR doesn't have to write rules to implement legislation - - and that's not the first time that Baker has taken the position that the DNR can act so independently.
You may remember that prior to the passage of the Great Lakes Compact in 2008, Baker and others at the DNR were saying the agency could approve diversions of Great Lakes water outside of the Great Lakes basin without following approval procedures outlined in federal law in force at the time.
Then-Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager in a lengthy, written opinion strongly took the opposite view; her opinion was not reported at the time by the mainstream media, but I posted it several times to get the word out .
A summary post with commentary, and a link to the opinion, is here,
Though the DNR did wait until the Compact was ratified before New Berlin's diversion application - - and that application fell into a less-complex review category - - Waukesha politicos are arguing that the DNR should proceed with its diversion review review prior to its writing rules about out-of-basin diversion permission formats and content.
What's the rush?
Why the push for a quickie review?
Regulators have given Waukesha until 2018 to comply with clean water standards, so there is plenty of time to proceed with this process logically and comprehensively from the outset: First, the Compact was approved: then write the implementing rules before diversion are implemented.
Waukesha is already talking about construction schedules before anyone has had a chance to really analyze its probable discharge plan, which involves dumping millions of gallons of treated wastewater into Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa.
An earlier plan floated out by Waukesha to dump its discharge into the Root River was met with strong opposition from Racine's Rep. Cory Mason, )D), who said Racine did not want to become Waukesha's toilet.
Is Wauwatosa, and the Menomonee Valley downstream, anxious to get Waukesha's flush?,
I smell a huge, politically-motivated power play coming from Waukesha, and, apparently with some support signalled high-up in the DNR, to ramrod through an application and diversion before the rules are written that will set a precedent across eight states.
Let's be clear: that's a very risky ploy.
I predict that if Wisconsin goes this route, the other seven Great Lakes states that, per the Compact, have to approve Waukesha's diversion will block it, treating Wisconsin as a regional renegade, uncooperative and arrogant, thus throwing the entire Compact and years of collaborative risk into court and down the drain.
Why go there?
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Well, better late than never.