Friday, January 30, 2009

Waukesha Saves Water - - Thus Raising A Question About The Diversion, Too

Waukesha reports a solid decrease in water consumption.

And that's good.

So if water consumption if falling, why is it signalling its intention to seek a Lake Michigan diversion of 20-24 million gallons of water daily - - an increase of about 150% from its current daily average of 9.8 million gallons?

SEWRPC provided Waukesha with a requisite map for a diversion application that indicated limited development opportunities in annexable territory.

So, again, why the need for so much additional water?

Waukesha may be showing water consumption declines because of industrial closings, so it's not clear how much of the reported decline is due to commercial/industrial business decisions and how much is due to residential customers installing water-saving devices, and so forth.

Another problem is that Waukesha has only recently instituted its conservation ordinances and rate changes.

Remember all the rain we had last year? Maybe that's why there was, for example, less lawn watering, or car washing.

Last summer there was too much water!

What's the outcome in Waukesha if we have an extended period of drought.

We're a long way from grasping all the science, data and technical planning associated with Waukesha's water use and future needs.

So while the drop in consumption is laudable, the reasons and the implications are not clear.

And may not be - - for years - - which is not a crisis because officials have repeatedly said Waukesha is not in a crisis situation.

It has a problem with radium, and it is dealing with it, and as SEWRPC has indicated, Waukesha has several supply options, including radium-removal, shallow aquiifer, Lake Michigan water, or a combination.

Still also unresolved: will Waukesha cap its current wells if it gets the diversion, will it safely return water to Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa without raising that stream's level, and does the new Great Lakes Compact permit diverted water to be treated and discharged outside of the Great Lakes basin, as Waukesha has said it may due, depending on rainfall.

Waukesha will have to delve deeply into these matters in its diversion application, so let's all stay tuned.

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