Friday, May 18, 2007

Wisconsin DNR Seeks Comments On New Berlin Water Diversion Application

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had recently appeared to be moving towards an internal review only of the City of New Berlin's application for a diversion of water from Lake Michigan, but has decided to solicit public comments, according to a posting on its website.

That's a good, and overdue development, as the public needs to be heard on matters of such importance.

The posting makes clear that the DNR is also seeking comments and advice about how the state should review similar applications before the proposed Great Lakes Compact agreement, where procedures are spelled out, is implemented in Wisconsin.

That implementation is months away, at a minimum, as a legislative study committee charged with drafting that implementation has not met since December, and unless efforts are successful among members to get a meeting scheduled soon, it is possible that the committee will end in a stalemate, with no recommendation.

Holding up the committee's work are several disagreements among members that primarily concern objections from New Berlin and other Waukesha County representatives who fear that the implementing legislation will endorse strict Compact rules limiting diversions of water beyond the boundaries of Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes.