Monday, October 19, 2009

Milwaukee Needs To Remember That Waukesha's Water Timetable Is Not Milwaukee's

The Waukesha Common Council on Tuesday will authorize the city to contact three potential water suppliers - - the cities of Milwaukee, Racine and Oak Creek - - and ask for letters expressing a willingness to sell Lake Michigan water to Waukesha.

We will hear a lot in the next days, weeks, months and maybe even years that Waukesha needs to make a deal with one of these cities right now so that if all eight Great Lakes states eventually say "OK," Lake Michigan water can flow to Waukesha.

In between the request for letters of intent and the opening of a big spigot (and let's not forget, a wastewater dumping pipe in Wauwatosa's Underwood Creek), there are and will be thousands of unanswered questions.

Waukesha's goal is get the deal done quickly and cheaply, and also to put off as many answers as possible.

Answers to questions that are environmental, legal, financial, and political.

What Milwaukee must do, as Waukesha's preferred seller, is remember that Milwaukee also has its own timetables, needs, and questions, and the worst thing imaginable would be to rush forward on Waukesha's terms.

Don't let Waukesha make its problem Milwaukee problem's, and shift the responsibility for finding water supply solutions from Waukesha to Milwaukee, and from the Mississippi River Basin, where Waukesha sits, to the Great Lakes basin.

Just as Waukesha is doing what it deems most in its self-interest, so should Milwaukee.

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