Friday, March 20, 2009

ACLU Posts Water/Justice Comments, Advancing Great Lakes Compact Discussion

The ACLU of Wisconsin is using its blog to post and circulate comments made by several organizations and legal experts on a regional water study in southeastern Wisconsin.

The comments are important for two reasons:

They explain the inadequacies of the water study and recommendations, that if followed, would encourage sprawl development, job migration, discriminatory housing patterns and other socio-economic problems in a seven-county region with the City of Milwaukee in its center.

A majority of Milwaukee residents are minorities, many of whom are also low-income, and cannot easily reach jobs in the predominantly white, higher-income suburban and out-county areas to which Lake Michigan water is recommended for diversion by the regional study.

The study was produced by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, a publicly-funded and federally-certified Municipal Planning Organization with the power to approve certain federally-financed transportation projects and to distribute federal funds, including new stimulus dollars.

Secondly, the comments offer a broader lens through which proposed diversions of water from the Great Lakes could be reviewed under the new, eight-state Great Lakes Compact.

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has an Environmental Justice Task Force; it asked the planning commission to slow down the final review of the water study so that intentional socio-economic analyses could be added, but the commission, to date, has declined the request.

The City of Milwaukee does not have a seat on the planning commission's 21-member board. Each of the seven member-counties has three seats, and some counties have fewer than one-third of Milwaukee's 600,000 residents.

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