Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another Setback To Transparency Looms In Waukesha Water Application

The other day - - in this posting - - I noted that Waukesha had a history of being less than fully transparent over the years as it has sought access to Lake Michigan water.

"The resistance to transparency," I wrote, "has dogged Waukesha's quest for a Great Lakes diversion since the city got caught in 2006 having twice asked Gov. Jim Doyle through a confidential memo for permission to divert Lake Michigan water - - and the Water Utility, which is in charge of writing the current application, has yet to fully erase that tendency."

The context for my observation is Waukesha's stated unwillingness to lay out the changes that it had made to its application for Lake Michigan water after it had gone to Waukesha's Common Council - - an application then turned back by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as insufficient and incomplete.

I had later posted a link to a fine summary piece in the Shepherd Express about where thing stand in light of the DNR's action,, and I want to highlight the end of that piece - - what journalists call "the kicker," as it equals, or exceeds, the punch that a reader expects in the lede sentence.

Wrote Lisa Kaiser:

"In its recent application, Waukesha wrote that it would cost an estimated $164 million to build the infrastructure to treat its wastewater and return it via Underwood Creek. But it didn’t satisfy the DNR’s standard for providing a thorough financial analysis about the cost of purchasing water from each municipality as well as the cost of returning it to the Lake Michigan basin.

"[Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Daniel] Duchniak said that the application did not include detailed financial information because city attorneys said that would put the city at a disadvantage in its negotiations with the three municipalities that could provide Lake Michigan water.

“We’re working with the DNR on providing them with that information, but for it to potentially remain confidential,” Duchniak said."

Now how in the world could that information sought by the DNR in a re-drafted application be kept confidential?

Didn't Waukesha learn anything from the black eye it earned in 2006 from its last love affair with confidentiality?

And isn't this more proof that the application, when re-drafted, should go to the Common Council for a hearing and a re-vote?

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