Monday, April 12, 2010

Key Regional Water Documents Due Soon

If you are keeping track of water issues in Southeastern Wisconsin, you need to be on the lookout for two important documents and developments, as both will have a significant impact on regional planning, water usage and Great Lakes basin growth.

The first is something called a scoping document that the Wisconsin Department of natural Resources is writing to define exactly what it will include in its environmental review of Waukesha's Lake Michigan diversion application.

The review will determine also what and when public input will be sought. It is no small matter.

The DNR has created a website where you can follow these issues. Here is a previous blog item about it that also includes the website link.

The second item to be released soon is the report by UWM consultants who assessed the social justice implications of a pending regional water supply study that had preliminarily endorsed the diversion - - but had not examined what impacts such diversions would have on regional transportation, housing, land use and other vital, social justice concerns.

That report should also be used by the DNR as it reviews the environmental implications of the Waukesha diversion application.

If we had a higher level of planning in this region, there would have been no 11th hour social justice review of the larger water study already five years in the drafting.

We wouldn't be in the middle of a 35-year drought when it comes to regional housing planning for the region - - and by the way, is there a water component in that draft now being developed?

A transportation theme - - since the region's freeway plan now underway with $6.4 billion in spending, 127 miles of new lanes being built or projected isn't adding any transit?

All this is at the heart of the institutional deficiencies endemic at the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, which believes in silo, detached studies with little overlap.

Little wonder that the region is characterized by intense racial segregation and sprawl - - and little surprise also that SEWRPC has approved an 80% increase in the size if Waukesha's water delivery territory should the city ultimately win a Lake Michigan diversion.

Some of the new territory is open space, and environmental acreage ticketed for preservation but not protected by state law, and the preferred housing model in that area is single-family on one acre-to-an-acre-and-a-half lots.

Sound like housing that might ease the concentration of affordable housing that is concentrated in land-locked urban Milwaukee, or more exurban, subdivision growth without transit connections?

In other words, housing that puts a strain on the land, clean air and existing roads - - requiring higher local taxes.

So there is a lot coming up. Stay tuned.

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