Thursday, January 14, 2010

Illinois Water Practices Are Bad: No Excuse For Waukesha Others, To Follow Suit

Waukesha's water-diversion blogging mouthpiece hauls out the tired chestnut that Illinois gets to take a lot of water from Lake Michigan without returning it - - without mentioning that there is a US Supreme Court grandfathering for the arrangement that Wisconsin fought unsuccessfully.

The blogger also forgets to mention that there is a new eight-state, two-country Compact in place that aims to rationalize additional diversions - - which the blogger should stand behind if he is really concerned about Great Lakes stewardship (my term, not used in the blogger's original text) - - that is designed to make sure there are not more, Illinois-style diversions of water.

And the blogger forgets to mention that Waukesha has said in some instances it might not return all the diverted water it is likely to soon seek - - during major storms, for example - - and my understanding of the Compact is that such co-mingling of waters is not permitted.

Again - - because the Compact is designed to preserve Great Lakes water, not find more reasons to flush it down the Fox River, where Waukesha currently dumps its wastewater and may elect to send some Lake Michigan water to prevent flooding along the tributary in Wauwatosa where its return flow would routinely be routed.

So let's have a higher standard of reasoning about Waukesha's water diversion planning, and adherence to Wisconsin's legal and environmental standards and laws, along with the Compact, beyond "Illinois is worse."

And though the blogger says that concern about Waukesha's probable plan is anti-suburbanism.


It's about beginning to support real Great Lakes watershed preservation and protection - - the lakes and tributaries included - - with standards and follow-through.


Bill McClenahan said...

You say commingling of water is not permitted. In fact, it is specifically allowed. The Compact recognizes the fact that infiltration is inevitable, saying water from outside the basin can be combined with water from the Great Lakes if the water is treated. S. 281.346(4)(f)4.b, Wis. Stats.

Waukesha treats more water at its waste water plant that it withdraws because, as with all water utilities in the region, there is infiltration of groundwater into pipes. If it sent all the water it treats to Lake Michigan, it would be sending more than 100% back, because it would be sending water from the Mississippi Basin to Lake Michigan, in addition to the Lake Michigan water. This is contrary to the Compact, which says, “The proposal . . . minimizes the amount of water from outside the Great Lakes basin that will be returned to” Lake Michigan. S. 281.346(4)(e)c, Wis. Stats. Is your position that water should be diverted from the Mississippi Basin to Lake Michigan?

James Rowen said...


I recognize the reality of infiltration inevitably providing some Mississippi River watershed water into Waukesha's projected return flow of Lake Michigan water, though of course there should be every effort made to minimize that.

I am talking about the planned comingling discussed at various times by Waukesha officials as possible if and when there are major rain events, and to minimize flooding along and below Underwood Creek - - the return flow entry point - - Lake Michigan water would be deliberately routed into the Fox River and down the Mississippi and away from the Great Lakes.