Tuesday, July 17, 2007

About Those New Berlin - - Milwaukee Water 'Negotiations'

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel applauds the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources grant of negotiation permission to New Berlin and Milwaukee over a possible water sale from Lake Michigan.

Actually, the DNR doesn't need to authorize these negotiations, or what they really are - - discussions - - because the cities are free to discuss this matter anytime they choose, and were exchanging information anyway.

New Berlin already knew that Milwaukee's Water Works pipes and pumps were insufficient to handle moving water across the subcontinental divide, so the DNR was doing a little theater - - pronouncing that something of substance was happening to begin to get water to New Berlin.

What the DNR really did with New Berlin's revised application was to say it met a DNR technical assessment.

If New Berlin and Milwaukee or another city were to reach an agreement to sell water, then the DNR will determine if the agreement, technically and legally, is in line with the revised application.

That could happen this year, or the next year - - and would move more quickly or rationally if Wisconsin legislatively approved and adopted the pending Great Lakes Compact.

This is something that Waukesha County business and legislative leaders have been obstructing.

So it's been a backwards process by the DNR - - approving New Berlin's application, even technically, prior to the Compact's adoption.

The City of Milwaukee's long-standing position was - - Compact approval first, then diversion application review under the terms of the Compact - - a process that would allow time to figure out who's going to pay for all the new water piping and pumping infrastructure, too.

Maybe if the state is fast-tracking New Berlin's application it should pay for the improvements.

All in all, not much of process by the DNR.

Not a great moment for Wisconsin.

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