Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Road To Sprawlville, Chapter XXII: Pumping Fresh Water Out Of Lake Michigan Leaves Tax Spigot Wide Open

Just get the water to Sprawlville, and the consequences for taxpayers, land use and the big picture be damned.

That is the Road to Sprawlville - - through an endorsement by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission water study addvisory committee for the diversion of Lake Michigan water to the City of Waukesha.

[Note: an earlier version of this posting incorrectly said that seven other communities west of the subcontinetal divide were also recommended for diversions.]

Yes - - the recommended plan has some conservation measures, but the core recommendation does not confront the housing, transportation and other related costs and consequences that will be triggered by the infusion of a major diversion to the heart of an area that will continue to grow through annexation, pushing service needs and costs farther from existing infrastructure.

SEWRPC's position on this? Not our problem.

What SEWRPC is doing is proposing adding more water to the mix; Waukesha County already had projected a population growth made prior to the Lake Michigan option that adds 140,000 people to the county.

Where are all those people going to live?

Open space, farm land, buffers, even environmental corridors, the remnants of the Kettle Moraine - - kiss 'em good-bye.

SEWRPC's existing land-use plan has enabled sprawl development in Waukesha County - - an area already underserved by transit in an era of spiking gas prices, and devoid of affordable housing.

And now the water committee wants to highten all these contradictions with a study that omitted from the very beginning consideration of costs other than for water pipes, water and wastewater treatment, conservation measures and other supply-and-demand matters.

More than ever, the region needs a different, broader, more comprehensive, timely, up-to-date and envelope-pushing master plan.

And again, since SEWRPC will not undo its previous work and its expand-the-exurbs/disregard-the-cities-business-as-usual mindset, others will have to demand it from SEWRPC or move independently to write a plan that melds transportation, land-use, housing (off SEWRPC's agenda since 1975, still), development and related issues.

This is why I had proposed that Milwaukee leave SEWRPC and create a new agency that would do real planning for the city, and other municipalities that chose to sign on, with a 21st-century focus.

The embrace of sprawl that SEWRPC that has enabled for the last 50 years across Waukesha County cannot be allowed this water-fueled quantum leap.

Taxpayers and the environment are facing costs they cannot afford - - costs hidden in the SEWRPC water recommendations.

No comments: