Friday, May 21, 2010

Groups Rip Waukesha Diversion Process

My take: Let's hope the DNR answers the questions Waukesha has avoided:


Contact: Jodi Habush Sinykin, Midwest Environmental Advocates (414) 507-0004

Peter McAvoy, Sixteenth Street Community Health Center (414) 385-3746

Cheryl Nenn, Milwaukee Riverkeeper (414) 378-3043

Waukesha Submits Revised Diversion Application To DNR Without Public Input

Revised version of the application did not go through Common Council

WAUKESHACity of Waukesha officials submitted a revised version of its application for a Lake Michigan diversion to the Department of Natural Resourcesyesterday without prior public review. It’s unclear what changes were made between the version that the Common Council approved and this third version that was submitted to the DNR, but a coalition of conservation and environmental organizations found it is disturbing that it was submitted without public review or input and not voted on by the Waukesha Common Council and its new mayor. The coalition has yet to see the revised application and are concerned about the lack of transparency at the final hours—especially the fact that the council voted on an earlier version of the document that wasn’t made public to the coalition until just last week. From a review of this earlier version, the coalition still has a number of key questions about the need for the application and its context, including:

· Why is Waukesha seeking more water than it is currently using while also touting its conservation efforts?

· Why is Waukesha expanding its water service territory by such a substantial amount?

· Has Waukesha fully considered other alternatives to a diversion, and their estimated costs, as expected by the Great Lakes Compact and state and federal law?

· What are the impacts of a return flow through Wauwatosa and Milwaukee waterways on water quality, flooding, public health, and downstream restoration projects in the Menomonee River ?

These and other questions, sent to the Waukesha Water Utility by a consortium of state conservation organizations over a year ago, have yet to be answered, and whether Waukesha’s revised application finally does so is of major concern.

“It is important that any application, but especially this first, precedent setting application for a diversion of water out of the Great Lakes Basin by a community such as Waukesha, meet the letter and spirit of the Great Lakes Compact”, said Jodi Habush Sinykin, Of Counsel for Midwest Environmental Advocates. “There are a lot of organizations and agencies in the other states around the Great Lakes Basin that are watching what is happening in Wisconsin with Waukesha ’s application.”

“There needs to be an open and transparent process to allow citizens and public officials the ability to consider how this proposed diversion will impact public health, our economy, and our water resources,” said Peter McAvoy, Vice President of Environmental Health for Sixteenth Street Community Health Center . “We understand that the DNR is very committed to an open and public review of this application and we’re hopeful that will be the case.”


Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Midwest Environmental Advocates

River Alliance of Wisconsin

Sixteenth Street Community Health Center

Waukesha County Environmental Action League

Marilyn Goris
Water Table Coordinator

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