Friday, May 22, 2009

Valuing Water: City Of Milwaukee Bid Information Available Now

The City of Milwaukee, anticipating future water sales under the Great Lakes Compact to communities like Waukesha that lie completely outside the Great Lakes basin, begins advertising Friday  for a contractor to put a value on the water.

It's an interesting and vital proposal.

The proposal could yield a framework for pricing water's relationship to growth.

And if the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission follows through on its pledge to add a socio-economic analysis to its pending, draft water supply study, the City of Milwaukee and future municipal customers could use this new information and work together to achieve strategically some measurable and real regional growth.

It is nothing short of amazing that SEWRPC has already spent three years and more than a million dollars in contracting and staff time to produce a regional water supply study that left out a socio-economic analysis of regional water usage or transfers.

And fought for months with its own Environmental Justice Task Force over adding that study element.

And probably will not include for study what could br the most productive, and yes, controversial socio-economic topic - - tax base sharing - - wherein a community buying water would rebate to the selling community a share of value of the water-aided development.

Remember: we're talking about the region's planning commission. What's so hard about the commission being a comprehensive, forward-looking agency?

New Berlin, which won Thursday from the state the right to buy Lake Michigan water over 20 years from the City of Milwaukee, could see growth of $1 billion in the area to be served by the new water hookup.

Milwaukee made the deal for water rates approved by the Public Service Commission, yielding revenues in the hundreds of thosands of dollars annually, and accepted a one time so-called cooperation payment of $1.5 million.

OK - - that is water over the dam or under the bridge or wherever political decision-making took it, but let's get a better system in place.

SEWRPC needs to somehow reconfigure its regional supply study draft, and connect with Milwaukee's consultant to make sure its work finds its way into the study and is used by decision-makers,

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