Saturday, October 31, 2009

Off To A Bad Start: Waukesha Withholding Water Cost Data

Crucial to Waukesha's Lake Michigan water diversion proposal under the Great Lakes Compact to the eight Great Lakes states is one matter of interpretation:

That the plan to be submitted for consideration is less expensive than other reasonable, relatively-comparable alternatives.

Waukesha has pegged its preferred option - - a pipeline connecting the City of Milwaukee Water Works for inflow, and a pipeline for treated wastewater for return to the lake via Underwood Creek - - at $76 million, plus another $5-6 million annually for operations.

The other options - - shallow aquifer well fields, or a treated wastewater pipe all the way back to an MMSD hookup - - at many millions more.

So how good are these estimates?

I asked Daniel Duchniak, general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility, to send me the documentation used to compile the estimates.

Duchniak and Mayor Larry Nelson had released the estimates as a part of their big presentation a couple of weeks ago at Waukesha City Hall.

You can access the presentation at this utility website, opening the Oct. 12 presentation powerpoint.

But Duchniak declined to provide the documentation, saying they were in the hands of hoi consultants, and did not respond to a follow-up assertion from me that these were indeed public records.

The consultants work for the utility.

The region and Waukesha are headed down a rough road if records used to produce public presentations are withheld.

I hope Waukesha rethinks its approach to Open Records; this is not the transparent process promised time and time again by Nelson and others pushing the Waukesha pitch for Lake Michigan water.


Anonymous said...

if they don't respond . . .think about taking them to court.

Krista Grimm said...

Did you formally file a FOIA request? It isn't clear in your post.

Thanks for all your work, btw, from a regular reader.