Thursday, September 23, 2010

Out-Of-State Groups Laud DNR For Cautious Approach To Waukesha Plan For Lake Michigan Diversion

Major out-of-state environmental groups are applauding the Wisconsin DNR for continuing to demand information from Waukesha before declaring the city's diversion application complete.

Local and statewide organizations had similarly weighed in.

Here is the text of the groups' statement - - and remember - - voices in other states count significantly, as all eight Great Lakes states must approve the Waukesha application (with advice from two Canadian provinces, too) - - or no water moves out of the Great Lakes basin to Waukesha, according to the 2008 Great Lakes Compact:


Alliance for the Great Lakes National Wildlife Federation

For Immediate Release Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

Groups Praise Wisconsin’s Caution on First-Ever Diversion Bid

The Alliance for the Great Lakes and National Wildlife Federation applaud Wisconsin for holding out for more information before committing to a detailed review of a Milwaukee suburb’s bid to divert Lake Michigan water.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources notified the city of Waukesha in a letter Monday that it is restarting the review process for the city’s proposal, but “believes more information is necessary before the application is deemed complete.” The DNR did not identify what information is needed, but said it will meet with city representatives to explain the issues relating to completing the application.

It’s the second time in three months the agency’s sought greater detail about Waukesha’s formal water bid, the first diversion request under the new Great Lakes Compact from a community located entirely outside the Great Lakes Basin.

The DNR flat-out rejected Waukesha’s application on June 9, saying the city failed to demonstrate it has no alternative but to tap Lake Michigan water – a requirement of the landmark interstate compact approved in 2008.

“Wisconsin is commended for taking a cautious, thorough and public approach when considering this first application for an exception to the ban on diversions under the compact – the most important vehicle we have for protecting and conserving the waters of the Great Lakes,” said Ed Glatfelter, director of the Alliance’s Water Conservation Program. “What they do here has implications not just for Lake Michigan, but for all five of the Great Lakes and the more than 40 million people who depend on them.”

Waukesha is eligible to apply for Great Lakes water because it lies within a county that straddles the Great Lakes and Mississippi River divide. That county, Waukesha County in southeastern Wisconsin, is located 18 miles west of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan.

In addition to demonstrating that no reasonable alternative water supply exists, the compact requires that Waukesha commit to returning all the water it withdraws -- less a reasonable amount for consumption -- to Lake Michigan.

“The compact is clear on what is expected of any diversion application. Kudos to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for understanding this and dealing with this application seriously,” said Marc Smith, senior policy manager with National Wildlife Federation. “Clearly Wisconsin understands that what happens in Waukesha does not stay in Waukesha.”

The precedent-setting application must not only stand up to the WDNR’s scrutiny, it must undergo regional review by the governors of the eight Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and the Canadian premiers of Ontario and Quebec. Applications for exceptions in straddling counties must also be approved by all eight of Great Lakes governors.

See the WDNR’s letter at:

Alliance for the Great Lakes
Ed Glatfelter: 312-939-0838 x235,

National Wildlife Federation
Marc Smith: 734-887-7116; 734-255-5413 (cell),


Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes is the oldest independent Great Lakes citizens’ organization in North America. Our mission is to: conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. More about the Alliance for the Great Lakes is online at

The National Wildlife Federation is America’s conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. For more information:

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