Below is the text of an op-ed on the current Waukesha water and political situation written by Mayor Jeff Scrima [Note also that I will repost this, as some readers report they cannot see the version directly below. There may be a formatting error):
Whose interests are being served by the present discussions about Waukesha water? Whose pockets are being lined? Whose wallets are being tapped? Whose future is being secured?
Let’s examine the facts.
The lobbying group “Sustainable Water Supply Coalition” (the same group that ran the full page ads in the Freeman newspaper before the election) recently convinced Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce to rally a petition. The petition, as well as their survey, is designed to push the City of Waukesha Common Council towards Lake Michigan water.
Whose interests are being served here?
City of Waukesha residents need to be aware that the same lobbying group, the “Sustainable Water Supply Coalition,” also supports “creating rate-free water districts for business development in the City of Milwaukee as a creative manner to attract new business… further positioning Milwaukee as an innovative and resource-ready location for business growth” (Letter from Sustainable Water Supply Coalition to the Milwaukee 7, dated February 5, 2010). In other words, while this lobbying group is pushing for the City of Waukesha to purchase Lake Michigan water, they are also pushing for a way to create and help pay for “rate-free districts for business development in the City of Milwaukee.”
Moreover, this lobbying group promotes the “sustainable use of the deep sandstone aquifer so the current elevation of the drawdown is optimally raised. Such efforts will preserve the opportunity for sandstone aquifer-reliant communities to continue to rely on this needed water source for long-term supply.” (also in the Letter from Sustainable Water Supply Coalition to the Milwaukee 7, dated February 5, 2010). Translation: if the City of Waukesha connects to Milwaukee water and goes off the deep sandstone aquifer, more water will remain in the deep sandstone aquifer to supply other communities.
It would seem that they want Waukesha residents to abdicate their future water to Milwaukee so as to reduce the cost of water for the rest of Waukesha County. Whose interests are being served here?
Milwaukee and Waukesha County, not the City of Waukesha and its residents.
- If the City of Waukesha connects to Milwaukee water and water rates soar in the City of Waukesha, will this be an incentive for residents and business to remain or come to the City of Waukesha, or will they move into the rest of Waukesha County where property tax and water rates are less expensive?
- Will the “Sustainable Water Supply Coalition,” the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce, or Waukesha County Government help the City of Waukesha residents and businesses pay for their higher water rates?
- If Oak Creek and Racine water sources are truly financially viable options, why doesn’t the City of Waukesha Common Council and Water Utility release these cost estimates to the public?
Remember recent history and connect the dots, don’t be fooled.
- The current Application for Great Lakes Water specifically “assumes connection to Milwaukee’s water system” (page 4-29).
- Milwaukee Aldermen sent me a letter of concern three days after the election about the water issue.
- Waukesha Water Utility is paying lobbying group Martin Schreiber and Associates, Inc. $12,800 per month, who in turn is hiring former Milwaukee Alderman Mike D’Amato to give counsel on the City of Waukesha’s future water source.
- The “Sustainable Water Supply Coalition” and Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce join forces to lobby the City of Waukesha Council to promote interests outside of the City of Waukesha, namely Waukesha County and the City of Milwaukee.
- Again, it will be the City of Waukesha residents and businesses that will be paying the higher water bills.
Note that under current normal operations, the City of Waukesha Water Utility is providing radium compliant water to its customers. The Application for Great Lakes Water also provides two alternative non-Lake Michigan water solutions.
It is only by having the citizens and businesses in the City of Waukesha well-informed and involved will we be able to move forward with responsibility and accountability.
It’s best not to be fooled by wolves in grandmother’s clothing.