Out Waukesha way, when it comes to water, do we see regionalism?
Generally not, though to be fair, new Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima has taken an understanding approach when it comes to the future of the Town of Waukesha: more about that in a few paragraphs...
But for now, the city of Waukesha is using a legal challenge to help acquire new well sites and water supplies in the neighboring town through eminent domain.
Something the town is trying to stop.
Waukesha water utility manager Dan Duchniak has called the inclusion of town land in the diversion application's proposed water service territory map a planning tool, with annexations an uncertainty.
The estimated cost of the Lake Michigan diversion plan is $164 million, though the Waukesha Water Utility already is having problems keeping its current infrastructure repaired.
Questions about Waukesha's water service expansion plan and the amount of water it is seeking from Lake Michigan were raised in a recent story on WUWU-FM.
Here is part of that discussion:
"Duchniak says Waukesha’s future water needs must be included in its strategy.
On a map, he points to the city’s current 22-square mile service area. Waukesha’s water application folds in 17 additional miles, primarily situated beyond the city’s southern and western perimeter.
Duchniak says because there could be growth in that area, Waukesha is requesting in its Great Lakes application, more than twice as much water as the eight million gallons it currently uses each day.
“I’m not here to dictate whether someone can or cannot dev their property – that’s not my job. My job is to plan for the future and what could potentially happen and then we’ll let the leaders of the city determine how and what develops,” Duchniak says.
Folding “growth” into the application worries Peter McAvoy. He says its not in keeping with the Great Lakes Compact..
“The compact says we’ll listen to your compelling case, but future growth, new growth outside your existing service area that doesn’t have the problem, you may have a more difficult set of arguments to make,” McAvoy says.
McAvoy belongs to a coalition of environmental conservation organizations determined to see the Great Lakes Compact implemented “to the letter” in Wisconsin."
For sometime I have felt the city's expansion as laid out in its diversion application to three neighboring municipalities - - Genesee, Town of Waukesha and Pewaukee - - is the weakest part of the application, for two reasons:
1. It asks the other Great Lakes states to divert water from a shared resource, in part, for growth, thus increasing the amount of water sought and supporting an economic advantage for a municipality within one state.
What's in it for the other states to agree to that, or, for matter, why should the DNR bless the use of that water to help the City of Waukesha grow at the expense of other parts of the region?
2. It does not involve the people in the other communities in the decision-making to have brought them into the city's water service reach. Since it could ultimately cost residents in those municipalities water payments and taxes, it sounds a lot like taxation without representation, or due process, to me.
Mayor Jeff Scrima was elected in April and had raised some of these issues with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - from whom he apparently will get some answers.
Scrima is skeptical of the wisdom of the Lake Michigan diversion, said in a Freeman interview that the city's planned incursion into the town is part of the reason the city is seeking water from Lake Michigan.
I had put that interview into a posting - - here - - and will pull out this quote:
"The whole push or argument for getting us on Great Lakes water is that the city is going to expand based on this projected water service (area),” Scrima said. “We are basically asking for Great Lakes water because the city is going to grow to the southwest. We are essentially going to swallow up the town. I believe this is presumptuous and unrealistic. These people that live in the town, they moved out there for a reason.”