Friday, January 18, 2008

Waukesha Continues To Shell Out Big Bucks For Water Consultants

Another year, another quarter of a million bucks+ for public relations and technical advisors contracted by the Waukesha Water Utility, its general manager reports.

The City of Waukesha, already having unsuccessfully tried twice to obtain a back-door diversion of Lake Michigan water, could insert its next application under the rules and guidelines of the Great Lakes Compact - - if that regional water management agreement is adopted by the Wisconsin legislature this year.

(To date, Illinois and Minnesota have approved the Compact; several of the other states have bills under review, and only Wisconsin has not yet considered a bill.)

A Wisconsin bill is expected later this month after more than two years of delay.

Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson is on record favoring the Compact, as is Jack Chiovatero, Mayor of New Berlin - - a city partially within the Great Lakes basin, and whose application for an out-of-basin diversion has been forwarded to the other states by Wisconsin officials.

But it is not yet clear which among several versions of Compact bills might advance in our state's legislature, especially in the State Assembly.

There has been strong resistance among Waukesha-area business leaders and legislators to Compact procedures that require the approval of all eight Great Lakes governors to a diversion of water to a city like Waukesha which is entirely outside of the boundaries of the Great Lakes basin.

Among the opponents to that provision are the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce, the Wisconsin Builders Association, and State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin).

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