As I see it, the weakest link is not a fuller comparison of water supply alternatives, or the lack of side-by-side cost estimates for potential water purchases from Milwaukee, Oak Creek and Racine.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Or problems with the wastewater flow through Wauwatosa's Underwood Creek - - and, again, a lack of comparison of return flow options that might better comply with the environmental directives of the Great Lakes Compact.
The state Department of Natural Resources has told Waukesha to add these elements to the application.
The weakest link in the application - - and what will raise questions all the way from the Town of Waukesha to the City of Milwaukee, and with reviewers and regulators in all the eight Great Lakes states, is Waukesha's plan to send Lake Michigan water into parts of Pewaukee, Genesee and the Town of Waukesha.
Expanding the current service territory land mass by 80%.
That expansion - - mapped out and green-lighted by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission for the Waukesha application administatively, without public review - - plays some role in Waukesha's request for up to 18.5 million gallons of Lake Michigan water daily.
Yes, the figure is a maximum, worst-case, drought-or-fire situation to be sure - - but clearly Waukesha and its water utility, like revenue-producing utilities are wont to do, intends to grow its customer and water rate base outside the city limits and water service territory.
Can annexations be far behind?
Fact: Current Waukesha daily water use, on average: 6.9 million gallons.
Anticipated daily use, on average, post-diversion, according to Waukesha figures: 10.9 million gallons.
Some of that usage is for projected future population and business growth inside the city limits, and some will go beyond - - thus you have the application resting on the shakiest of premises, because:
Water for growth is not the goal of the Compact. Take it from a Compact expert's superb analysis, here.
Water to serve growth 20 some miles from the City of Milwaukee - - with its employment, housing, transit and development challenges - - cannot sanely be Milwaukee's goal.
And being absorbed into the City of Waukesha's water service is not the goal of neighboring Town of Waukesha people from whom I hear.
Waukesha's water-for-expansion goes beyond meeting its own needs. It's an assault on regionalism, and resource sustainability and the core preservationist principle of the Compact.
It's where the diversion application lacks the most justification and creates the most waves.
And is absolutely not where SEWRPC should have thrown its support - - about which I have more to say Friday.