Monday, November 19, 2012

Regional Water Authority, Waukesha's Water "Plan C"?

In a Sunday Crossroads op-ed, a pro-growth suburban Milwaukee-area state legislator and a water industry leader in Southeastern Wisconsin jointly called for the creation of a multi-member regional water authority to coordinate water supply planning and distribution across municipal borders - - with the resolution of the City of Waukesha's long-standing water supply troubles among the authors' goals.

The trial balloon is not the first time that business interests have joined the effort - - more detail, here - - to get Waukesha the water it says it needs.

One business group had this to say in 2010:

"Our first order of business will be to help secure a sustainable source of water for the city of Waukesha," the coalition announced today. "We believe our own ‘backyard' challenges, such as the city of Waukesha's need to attain court-ordered radium compliance, must be solved with broad community support for this region to become a true ‘water hub.'" 
Yet the City of Waukesha is still staring at a legally-binding June, 2018 deadline to deliver a new water supply, with a controlling date of June, 2013 in diversion planning an apparent impossibility.

An application for a Lake Michigan diversion that Waukesha drafted in the spring of 2010 is still being reviewed by the DNR; the application must pass through similar reviews and approvals in all eight Great Lakes states according to a 2008 Great Lakes water management agreement (Compact) because Waukesha is located beyond the boundaries of the Great Lakes basin.

Perhaps the authors are anticipating the rejection of Waukesha's application by one or more of the Great Lakes states, where approvals must be unanimous.

Or they may be acknowledging that the 2018 deadline simply cannot be met under the Compact process, thus, 1) pushing Waukesha to a Plan B, like the combination of greater conservation and water from new local, shallow wells blended with supplies from current, deeper wells, and 2) anticipate a fresh application under the Compact for Lake Michigan water by a new regional water authority - -  a "Plan C" - - years down the road, given the time needed to set up the authority and have it draft a water diversion application that sends water out of the great lakes basin to an authority member (Waukesha).

A regional water authority directed by suburban interests (goodbye, Milwaukee, hello sprawl-fueled water), is clearly on the minds of Waukesha and Oak Creek:
Note that item "F" in the Oak-Creek Waukesha water deal envisions the creation of a regional water authority:

F.    Regional Water Authority: Both Parties agree to engage in discussions related to the creation of a Regional Water Authority ("RWA"), the purpose of which would be to own and operate a treatment facility and the facility's related infrastructure. Such discussions would investigate the potential for the RWA to serve Oak Creek and its wholesale customers and the ownership and governing structure of the potential RWA. If such RWA purchases Oak Creek's existing Water treatment facility and the facility's related infrastructure, Oak Creek will receive fair and equitable monetary compensation for the sale.
I've followed the regional water authority issue since 2007 when the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, SEWRPC, eventually recommended that Waukesha use Lake Michigan water.

SEWRPC had hired Madison attorney and water law specialist Lawrie Kobza as a consultant to lay out the legal basis for the establishment of regional water authorities, and incorporated her findings into its final report.

Waukesha later hired Kobza to advise the city on the preparation of the diversion application.


Anonymous said...

A few noted points;
Waukesha cannot blend water with the deep aquifer to reduce the radium level to meet the court order - it already does that.
The deep aquifer water itself must meet the EPA standard. That means adding scrubbers to all the deep wells. that could have been done long ago had the water commission and the utility manager not horsed around with the romantic notion that they were above the compact.
Also, any super water compact that intends to divert water outside the basin to Waukesha will find so many flaws in it's application that the authors will look more foolish than Waukesha's current representation.
Waukesha will no longer have a health issue or a shortage for years - long after the old men are buried.

Bill Kurtz said...

Let them have lake water when Waukesha County agrees to join a regional TRANSIT authority, a needed move they've constantly fought. Until then, let them go thirsty.

Anonymous said...

The City of Waukesha doesn't need water. Nor does it need to spend $200 million to get something it's not required to obtain.

Waukesha, a small city of 75,000 certainly doesn't need regional transit. Where the heck would they go? Transit only goes to fixed points of destination.

Have people just plain lost it when it comes to informed decision making?