Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Groups, Again, Expose Waukesha Water Planning Deficiences

A coalition of state and regional environmental organizations is highlighting, again (some of the critique is a year old next month), the deficiencies in Waukesha's application for a Great Lakes diversion.

That's because in July, Waukesha again reaffirmed its position that its application is viable and ready for regulatory review.

We'll see what the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has in mind, as for now, the application remains in limbo.

I'll post separately here some information about the DNR's suspended review and how to track the agency's approach should that review begin.

Here is the text of the Coalition's statement:


Contact: Melissa Malott, Water Program Director, Clean Wisconsin, (608) 251-7020, ext. 13;

Laurie Longtine, Water Representative, Waukesha County Environmental Action League, (262) 542-7929

Water Coalition Calls for Waukesha to Strengthen Insufficient Great Lakes Compact Application

Group Cites Lack of Scientific Comparison of Alternatives, Deficient Water Conservation Plan and Lack of Detailed Cost Estimates

WAUKESHA – Though Waukesha’s Common Council last week reaffirmed its support for the city’s application to divert water from Lake Michigan, the application fails to meet a number of standards of the Great Lakes Compact, as well as basic transparency expectations for city residents and stakeholders across the multi-state region.

This has long been the contention of the Compact Implementation Coalition, a diverse group of environmental conservation organizations committed to the proper implementation of the Great Lakes Compact in Wisconsin.

The group’s analysis supports the position taken earlier this summer by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, where the agency asked Waukesha to address several deficiencies in what it characterized as an incomplete application.

“Waukesha’s application will set the bar for the Great Lakes states. To be approved, it must meet the standards of the Great Lakes Compact. Right now, it doesn’t,” said Attorney Melissa Malott, water program director at Clean Wisconsin.

“The application fails to properly analyze available water supply alternatives, includes an inadequate water conservation program, and lacks necessary information on the City’s three preferred water supply and return flow scenarios.

Waukesha should complete the required analysis in a transparent way before submitting an updated application to the DNR.”

The Compact Implementation Coalition’s analysis reveals that key areas of Waukesha’s application remain insufficient to meet the requirements of the Great Lakes Compact. To protect the Great Lakes, Waukesha’s application must, at a minimum:

Fully evaluate the costs, feasibility, and long-term sustainability of all drinking water supply alternatives, including radium treatment, meaningful water conservation and efficiency measures, and various options for Fox River basin water supply, along with any viable combination of alternatives, to demonstrate it has no reasonable water supply alternative to Lake Michigan water.

Be based on a water conservation and efficiency plan that adequately considers all feasible measures in accordance with Wisconsin’s pending administrative rules on water conservation and efficiency.

Properly detail all options, costs, and environmental impacts for returning water to the Lake Michigan basin.

On Tuesday, July 27, Waukesha’s Common Council approved a letter requesting that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) resume consideration of Waukesha’s application.

The DNR had put the application on hold in early June citing deficiencies also raised repeatedly by the Coalition, including the city’s failure to demonstrate that it has no reasonable water supply alternative other than Great Lakes water.

The DNR also said the application lacked sufficient details on all water purchase and return flow options, and their associated costs. As of last Tuesday’s meeting, it appeared the city did not plan to submit more details to the DNR on water supply alternatives or alternatives to their preferred return flow option, which is to send treated wastewater back to Lake Michigan via Underwood Creek and the Menomonee River.

Also, City officials requested to submit water purchase cost details confidentially to the Department rather than publicly.

“The ongoing lack of transparency about these crucial details and the costs of all options is unacceptable," said Laurie Longtine, of the Waukesha County Environmental Action League (WEAL).

"The DNR, the Water Utility and the City are all public entities. Federal, state, county and city tax dollars are involved. The public has a right to see the information that has been obtained in its name, and which it has paid for.”


The Compact Implementation Coalition is a diverse group of environmental conservation organizations working on water and related issues in Waukesha, southeastern Wisconsin, and statewide.

The coalition is committed to the proper implementation of the Great Lakes Compact in Wisconsin.

Members include Waukesha County Environmental Action League, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Clean Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, River Alliance of Wisconsin, and Sixteenth Street Community Health Center.

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