Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Berlin Plays Potential Water Sellers Off Each Other: A Losing Game

New Berlin is discussing Lake Michigan water purchases with several potential supplying communities, complaining that the City of Milwaukee is dragging its feet as a seller.

New Berlin's complaints are misdirected.

If the state adopted the Great Lakes Compact, clarified the rules and let the other Great Lakes states know that Wisconsin would review diversions with some sort of real process on its books, then diversion applications could be processed more smoothly.

New Berlin can thank its own State Senator, Mary Lazich, (R), for torpedoing Compact negotiations in Madison this summer and fall, putting her own city in water limbo.

Without a Compact, no sale from Milwaukee, Oak Creek or Racine, or from Timbuktu, for that matter, is likely to be approved by Wisconsin regulators or the other Great Lakes states, as required by the draft Compact and existing federal law.

Note that Waukesha is continuing its secrecy-laden efforts for a separate diversion, repeating its penchant for confidentiality that was exposed in 2006 with the surfacing of secret appeals to Gov. Jim Doyle for backdoor-diversion approvals - - appeals that Doyle turned aside.

Furthermore, as I have pointed out on this blog several times - - Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager issued a lengthy opinion nearly a year ago saying that Wisconsin could not, on its own, approve a diversion of Lake Michigan water to New Berlin, or Waukesha, without the approval of the other Great Lakes states' governors.

In the opinion, Lautenschlager cited the pending Compact as well as current federal law.

It does not matter that Lautenschlager is no longer the Wisconsin AG: it was the opinion of the office, and Wisconsin officials would be fools to proceed with a diversion approval unilaterally with an AG opinion saying they cannot.

New Berlin can try and pressure Milwaukee for a water sale by visiting Oak Creek or Racine, but none of these communities can sell, yet, as Lautenschlager pointed out.

New Berlin should try and win its own state senator to its cause, though she has thrown in with Compact bashers on the states'-right fringes in Ohio, jeopardizing the agreement across the Great Lakes, and certainly helping to block future sales to water-hungry New Berlin customers.


Anonymous said...

The people of New Berlin are not lacking thirst; they want to water their gigantic lawns and wash their numerous cars.

For those simple luxuries, they can simply choose to move back to the City of Milwaukee, where they can receive the services they need!

It's a matter of choice.

As far as Lazich's Ohio partner, Tim Grendell, he is a bigot. Shortly after taking office for one term in the Ohio House, he made incredibly nasty comments about the intellectual capacity of a black legislator, and was roundly criticized by even his Republican colleagues.

This monument to bigotry ran for Ohio Attorney General in 2006, and was crushed in the Republican primary by a margin of almost three-to-one.

James Rowen said...

Thank you for the informative comment. I will blog about the Ohio story. Much appreciated.