Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Groups Praise DNR's High Bar For Waukesha Water Application

A coalition of environmental organizations - - having for many months noted the deficiencies in Waukesha's troubled application for Lake Michigan water - - applaud the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for continuing to press Waukesha to make the application complete and comprehensive.

I had discussed some of these issues earlier: below is the text of the organizations' Wednesday statement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 22, 2010

Contact: George Meyer, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (608) 516-5545

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

Ezra Meyer, Clean Wisconsin (608) 251-7020 x20

Laurie Longtine, Waukesha County Environmental Action League (262) 894-8443

Doing its Job,

DNR again finds Waukesha’s Application for Lake Michigan Water “Incomplete.”

WAUKESHA-- Yesterday in a letter to Waukesha Common Council President Ybarra the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) again had to take the unusual step of having to inform the city that its application for Lake Michigan water is still incomplete.

In the letter to Council President Ybarra, the DNR noted that more information is required and “our experience with these types of complex, technical reviews has shown that it is more efficient to make sure we have a complete application before beginning a more detailed review.” The Compact Implementation Coalition applauds the DNR for taking this action.

“We have been pointing out for many months that the Waukesha application is deficient in a number of important respects and this is reinforced by the department’s action,” said Cheryl Nenn, Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

The coalition also commended the DNR for emphasizing the fact that “Waukesha’s application will set an important precedent and represents an important test of the Great lakes Compact” and that the review process “will include an Environmental Impact Statement and opportunity for public comments and meetings as well as time to carefully consider the comments.”

"The second decision by DNR that the application is incomplete is very rare and clearly reflects substantial shortcomings in the Waukesha application,” stated George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and former DNR Secretary.

"The City of Waukesha should recognize that the DNR is deadly serious in requiring that any application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water fully meet the requirements of the Great Lakes Compact and water quality standards."

“One thing crystal clear from the DNR’s letter is that the City of Waukesha has its work cut out for it,” said Jodi Habush Sinykin, of Counsel, Midwest Environmental Advocates.

“If the City’s application is to advance under state and federal law, Waukesha will need to undergo a rigorous public and technical review process that will be sure to require a complete analysis of the City’s multiple water supply options as well as detailed cost information—both still missing from Waukesha’s submissions to date.”

The DNR, in a previous letter to Waukesha dated June 8, 2010, and again in its letter yesterday, stated that the application failed to meet a number of standards of the Great Lakes Compact and asked Waukesha to address several deficiencies in what it characterized as an “incomplete application.”

The Compact Implementation Coalition, a diverse group of Wisconsin environmental and conservation organizations committed to the proper implementation of the Great Lakes Compact in Wisconsin, has repeatedly pointed out these deficiencies in Waukesha’s application.

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 combinations 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 July 27, Waukesha’s Common Council approved a letter requesting that the 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. The letter sent by the Common Council stated that 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.

“There is a lack of a thorough, scientific analysis of alternative water supply options,” said Laurie Longtine, Waukesha County Environmental Action League. “We think the City should take its time and go back and do that now and not rush forward trying to piecemeal an application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water.”


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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