Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rising Water Rates In Waukesha Is Hardly Surprising

I'm not sure why Waukesha residents are expressing surprise that their water rates would rise under what is called the cheapest of the alternatives for obtaining a new water supply - - $164 million, with the City of Milwaukee sending treated water from Lake Michigan through Waukesha's new pipeline and returning wastewater in Wauwatosa's Underwood Creek.

As I said a couple of months ago, it could get expensive to live in Waukesha.

Yet the realization that nothing comes cheap these days was apparently the takeaway from a public session Thursday night in Waukesha on the subject: that the new supply and system, even if reduced in cost through hoped-for federal grants, will still require a hefty increase in rates.

In other words, the proposal raises a lot of questions and issues.

Current ratepayers might want to ask about the cost-effectiveness and per-capita expense of sending the water to the new 17+ square miles of service territory that the city intends to carve out to its west and south.

That is the same question that will ultimately be asked and answered in a broader context by the seven other Great Lakes states because all eight must approve Waukesha's diversion application.

And asked in a related way also by Milwaukee, should it choose to sell Lake Michigan water to Waukesha: is Waukesha's quest for Lake Michigan water in the best interests of the region's overall social justice, financial and natural environment- - that is, beyond the goals of Waukesha's major businesses and the County Chamber of Commerce?

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