Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Water, Jobs And Justice: One Day Left To Speak Your Mind

Tomorrow, March 31st, is the last day on which you can send comments, observations or materials to consultants who are writing the last, pivotal section of a regional water supply study.

Here is the web link through which you can send your information, and I will repeat it towards the end of this posting, too.

The consultants' work will help determine the winners and loser, the haves and have-nots, in the growth and economic development game in the greater Milwaukee, seven-county area.

The work is being performed at the UWM Center for Economic Development, hired by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) after pressure from a citizen arm of SEWRPC known as the Environmental Justice Task Force.

In other words, pressure from the public and social justice advocates forced SEWRPC, at the 11th hour, to broaden the scope of its water supply study - - after more than five years of water study and planning that ignored the relationship between regional planning and social justice, and particularly the relationship among water, growth and the region's lower-income and minority residents.

What the consultants are doing, in an admittedly short time frame, is to look at SEWRPC's water supply study recommendations that are in draft form - - and which include support for a Lake Michigan diversion to the City of Waukesha - - to determine whether there are socio-economic consequences to the region's status quo and future.

And, if so, what to do about it.

The SEWRPC region is characterized by growth away from Milwaukee, which has been prevented by state law from annexing land since the mid-50's, and which now has the majority of the region's low-income and minority residents.

Should water, with its development potential, be moved from Milwaukee to Waukesha - - which is looking to add 80% to its water service delivery territory - - without regard for the bigger-picture consequences?

Just yesterday, the general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility said that its draft application for a Lake Michigan diversion includes an unspecified sum of money earmarked to compensate the City of Milwaukee - - the presumed water supplier - - should the diversion lead to a loss of jobs and industry following the water from Milwaukee.

So these are hardly moot or irrelevant issues.

Some context, here.

If you have an opinion on these issues, or have studies or materials you want to put into the consultants' hands, you've got until tomorrow to do it.

Here is the website through which you can send your information.

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