Friday, February 2, 2007

Water Frolics and Great Lakes Water Policy

Thursday's announcement of a major hotel, conference center and water park for New Berlin will throw a monkey wrench into that city's efforts to obtain a diversion of Lake Michigan water.


Because New Berlin is seeking to bring Lake Michigan water over the subcontinental divide for the western portion of the city - - the physical divide splits the city - - and getting a diversion over the divide needs the approval of all eight US Great Lakes governors under current US law and a US-Canadian agreement.

New Berlin's preliminary diversion application was already in trouble because several states' reviewers last year found it incomplete, especially with regard to conservation and other important details.

New Berlin officials have been saying that diverted Lake Michigan water would be used to replace well water that does not meet federal radium standards and was not a ploy to get more water to fuel development.

Some City of Milwaukee officials, principally Ald. Michael Murphy, have long argued that diverted water helps encourage businesses to locate beyond Milwaukee's city limits; City of Milwaukee records show that about a quarter of the companies in New Berlin's Industrial Park had relocated there from Milwaukee.

So Milwaukee might be cutting its own throat if it were to send New Berlin water for that suburban city's more westerly area.

The hotel, conference center and water park is in the planned diversion, over-the-subcontinental divide zone, according to New Berlin Mayor Jack Chiavatero.

Mayor Chiavatero said in email that the hotel will feature green architecture and filtration to limit the water park - - said to be the region's largest - - to 8,000 gallons water daily.

Never the less, it seems that New Berlin has water-dependent expansion plans for acreage that is outside of the subcontinental divide.

As development spins off related projects, the demand for Lake Michigan water to that area will escalate, helping to pave more open space, require more roads, move the economy away from Milwaukee and create more sprawl.

Take a look just a few miles to the west at Pabst Farms, where a large hospital and a million-square ft. shopping mall are the latest approvals to subdivisions with an eventual 400 large, single-family homes.

All plunked right on top of land that provides rain and snowmelt drainage for the region's underground water supply.

Is this the kind of planning and expansion - - entire communities built on precious aquifer recharge land, or going after Lake Michigan for water park frolicking - - that helps the region's stressed and finite water supplies?

And does a New Berlin hotel/conference center/water park bode well for Milwaukee's downtown hotel, convention center and visitors' economy?


Anonymous said...

What, they can't have a radioactive themed waterpark?

XOut said...

But if they fall within the divide then what does it matter?

Why can't a municipality located squarely in the basin open a water park?

This is why your arguments are so empty. Your only concern is the 124th street border.