Thursday, January 28, 2010

For Better Or Worse, Waukesha To Go After Lake Michigan Water: Some Highlights

From Waukesha's City Hall meeting Thursday, where Mayor Larry Nelson, Water utility general manager Daniel Duchniak and some of the city's high-priced consultants disclosed a draft of Waukesha's $165 million Lake Michigan water diversion plan:

* Regardless from which Lakefront city (Milwaukee, Racine or Oak Creek) Waukesha chooses to purchase Lake Michigan water - - if the diversion application is approved by all eight Great Lakes states - - the discharge point for the wastewater to be returned is Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa. Period.

I keep wondering if Wauwatosa knows it is Waukesha's flush point.

* Regardless of which new water supply alternative Waukesha chooses to implement, and Lake Michigan is its preferred choice, water rates there are going to skyrocket. It was pointed out tonight that just the operation and maintenance cost of managing a pipeline from Lake Michigan and returning wastewater via Underwood Creek about equals the entire current Waukesha Water Utility operating budget.

And that doesn't include interest on tens of millions in borrowings to pay for the new system's construction.

* Several aldermen and citizen speakers objected to buying Milwaukee water if it came with development strings or additional dollars above the water rate approved by the Public Service Commission - - and Milwaukee's Common Council is unanimously on record by formal resolution tying water delivery to Waukesha to better transit, more affordable housing and other developmental relationships.

* Waukesha has a pretty tight time line to be done with the application, approvals, and construction to meet a June, 2018 timeline.

I remember the Great Lakes water expert Peter Annin addressing the Waukesha Common Council and Water Utility Commission at a public about a year ago advising the assemblage to expect any initial application to be turned back by one or more of the Great Lakes states.

Does the Waukesha timeline include a period of application re-writing, or a final turn-down, leading to appeals?

The city says it has about an 18-month buffer built in between now and mid-2018 for such contingencies, though it says there is no time to waste.

So can Waukesha afford the diversion plan, or should it be looking at alternatives that might be more politically viable, or doable?

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Water Lily said...

"So can Waukesha afford the diversion plan, or should it be looking at alternatives that might be more politically viable, or doable?"

What about economically feasible?

It defies logic that a Lake Michigan diversion is the lowest cost alternative:
1. You still have to treat the source water.
2. You still have to treat the wastewater (and possible additional treatment to bring discharge to higher standards for Underwood Creek)
3. You have to pay Milwaukee or other municipality for access.
4. And now you have to add the costs of laying miles of pipeline (in both directions), more pumping stations, higher electrical costs for moving all that water around, plus maintenance for the additional infrastructure . . .

How can a Lake Michigan diversion possibly be the lowest cost alternative?