Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Come Hear SEWRPC Respond To Water Study Critics

The advisory committee that has been working on a draft regional water supply plan for the seven-county Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission meets again Tuesday morning, at SEWRPC's Pewaukee headquarters, at 9:30 a.m.

Here is SEWRPC's website, with driving directions, as this is the committee's first meeting since September, 2008 - - and the meeting will be well worth your time.

That's because the committee will read through, discuss and react to all the public comments that have come SEWRPC's way since the draft was rolled out at a round of public meetings.

I'd suggest you come and watch SEWRPC conduct what planners have come call "review and dismiss," wherein SEWRPC's staff will deflect, deny, or outright trash comments on the proposed plan.

There's already been a whiff of that, when environmental groups that took issue with the draft - - and the overall Land Use Plan that informs it - - and got letters from SEWRPC upbraiding them for having had the unmitigated gall to call the water study and especially SEWRPC's land use plan into question.

There are still at least four major lines of inquiry not yet answered about regional water use as SEWRPC is recommending - - the centerpiece being a diversion of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha:

1. Is it clear that the assumptions about growth and population driving the land use plan, and water demand as outlined in the study, are accurate?

2. Does the land use plan adequately coordinate water needs and sustainability with other planning basics in the region, such as housing, transportation and economic development?

3. Does sending Lake Michigan water to Waukesha produce a return flow plan that meets the legal and procedural requirements of the Great Lakes Compact, as well as the region's environmental integrity and the health of tributary into which Waukesha's treated wastewater will be dumped?

4. Will the socio-economic analysis that SEWRPC has agreed to add belatedly to the draft study, after nearly four year of work, be a genuine effort to redo the draft on a bigger canvas, or will it be perfunctory?

Tuesday's meeting is as much about the water study as it is about the internal workings of SEWRPC - - its administrative mindset, study procedures and processes, and planning culture.

You'll hear a lot of self-referencing justifications, along the lines of 'that issue is dealt with in the land use plan, so no need to worry about that.'

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