Saturday, January 12, 2008

Business Leaders Risk Killing The Compact: Maybe That Is The Plan?

Again, prominent Wisconsin and Waukesha-area business leaders ventilate loudly in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the proposed Great Lakes Compact will hurt them.

Man, did they get a lot of ink.

They just will not grasp and acknowledge that the Compact is an eight-state, two Canadian province cooperative agreement.

It is not the Greater Waukesha Guaranteed Prosperity Compact - - to convey special status for an area that has over-used its ground water through hyper-development, yet wants to paper over its profligacy by inserting into an international stewardship agreement permission for its very own, dedicated spigot - - county-wide.

Ironically, current federal law is more restrictive than the proposed Compact.

There is no logical reason for these business leaders to prefer living under the more stringent federal diversion restrictions unless their next card is litigation to void the federal law.

None of these business leaders' pronouncements are rooted in Great Lakes stewardship. Their perspective is all about self-interest, and it is not out of the question that the Compact, years in the making, could be unraveled by Wisconsin's non-approval.

Remember that after the Compact was initialed by all the Governors and provincial premiers, and while Wisconsin officials were beginning to set up a process to approve the Compact in our state, the City of Waukesha twice confidentially asked Gov. Jim Doyle to approve perpetual diversions from Lake Michigan in direct contravention of the procedures and goals laid out in the pending Compact.

It was and remains an undercovered story. Here is an account.

A Waukesha Water Utility lobbyist, Bill McClenahan, has complained on this blog (see the comment section there) that I have unfairly cast Waukesha as being anti-Compact. I disagree.

I think the record to date shows that Waukesha is making strides in conservation planning, and I have praised Waukesha for that on this blog.

But Waukesha also continues to heavily use closed sessions of both the water utility and common council to formulate diversion planning, raising suspicion that the diversion scheme being formulated will not fully return diverted water back to Lake Michigan.

Also keep in mind that the Southeastern Regional Planning Commission, as it finishes work on major regional water supply study recommendations, may propose the creation of a new regional water authority to more easily move Lake Michigan diverted water to a growing number of communities across the entire region.

Michigan will surely try and block some or all of those moves, thus further jeopardizing the Compact and again setting the stages for the federal law to be challenged.

I wouldn't put anything past the Compact opponents, especially some in Waukesha County that have listened too hypnotically to their talk radio,and self-generated publicity and now truly believe they are entitled to exceptional treatment.

The talk about making deep changes to the Compact, knowing that such amending, including eliminating the embedded principle of eight-state approvals for out-of-basin diversions, will kill the Compact.

There was a time that environmental policy for the state and nation were given birth here by legends like Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson.

The stance and work and intentions were pro-active and assertive to protect the ecosystem for generations to come - - because we share these resources as a state, region, nation and planet.

Now the conventional wisdom is more and more about selfishness and money and perceived advantage, not the common good.

How far from our legacy and position as the region's ecological leader could we fall?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Waukesha has a tremendous opportunity to show leadership in water resource management. Waukesha is a relatively water rich county that has been aware of its water woes for decades. Poor land use decisions and the continued mismanagement of groundwater within its watershed has some of its leaders seeking a cheap and easy fix- take water from another watershed because we messed up our own. Conservation efforts are a good start but the more critical solution to the growing cone of depression(the largest in North America) and associated radium laced water is to switch from a wasting system to a recycling system. Pumping water from the ground at rates far greater than nature can replenish, using it, treating it, then dumping it into a river which eventually deposits it into the Gulf of Mexico has not served us well. Sustainable management of our water resources.
If a water rich community like Waukesha can't do it, how can we expect water poor communities to not come knocking at the door. Waukesha - do the right thing, manage your resources responsibly-Lead.