Sunday, March 23, 2008

Georgia's Water Schemes Echo Across Waukesha, GOP Leadership

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Egan reports at length from Georgia, where sprawl, population growth and resource overuse have dangerously drawn down the region's water supply.

And where politicians are going to wierd lengths to try and get their hands on water, including moving Georgia's borders to captures some water in Tennessee.

It's not a new story, but there's ample reason for the paper to send its water expert for some first-hand, page-one reporting.

There are parallels to the Waukesha County situation, as noted on this blog.

Having overused their resources, Waukesha political and business interests keep trying to rewrite a Great Lakes water management Compact already approved by four of the region's states to guarantee that Waukesha gets special access to the Great Lakes.

And invariably, these special interests call their 11 th-hour meddling minor tweaking, when in fact they want to undo years of negotiations that risk scuttling the Compact altogether.

Current federal law mandates that such water transfers be approved by all eight Great Lakes states, so the eased rules sought by Waukesha won't happen.

In 2006, the City of Waukesha pursued an even more audacious strategy: telling Gov. Jim Doyle in two confidential Lake Michigan diversion proposals (discovered through an Open Records request) that the Great Lakes basin boundary visible on the surface - - the subcontinental divide running atop Sunny Slope Hill and throughout much of eastern Wisconsin - - was something of a mirage.

The real basin boundary that controlled the city's legal right to Lake Michigan water, Waukesha argued, was beneath the ground, with unseen underground tributaries already connecting Waukesha to Lake Michigan.
In other words, Waukesha argued, it was already in the Great Lakes basin.


With these connections already in place, so the city argued, Waukesha was entitled to grandfathering and 24 million gallons of Lake Michigan water a day, with no need to return a drop.

Gov. Doyle did not approve the applications, and the City of Waukesha says it has abandoned that back-door grandfathered activity and argument to pursue other strategies - - but they still can't shake their pattern of closed-door maneuvering, putting its credibility continually at risk.

So before we here in this region chuckle at wacky efforts in Georgia to find more water, remember that we've got boundary-movers and agreement-amenders and others tinkering with the Great Lakes right here.

No comments: