Monday, October 18, 2010

No Environmental Impact Statement Review Begun On Waukesha Diversion Application

Wednesday, October 20th will mark five months since Waukesha delivered an application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the first-ever out-of-basin diversion of water under the Great Lakes Compact of 2008.

[Update: Waueksha officials are holding yet another informational town hall meeting on the application - -  at 5:30 p.m. in their city hall.]

But a key initial substantive step - - the initiation of the environmental impact statement (EIS) review through the creation of "scoping" parameters  - - has not begun, says the DNR website set up to let the public know what is happening with the application.

The seoping document will make up the limits and substance of the EIS - - but it will not get underway until Waukesha "cures the [application] deficiencies," according to web text found on the site's EIS button.

Is the application, prepared laboriously and at great cost by PR consultants, lawyers, scientists and water utility staff - - and edited in-house after its April approval by the Common Council, and supplemented with more material requested by the DNR - - now ready for prime time?

Draw you own conclusions.

I do not sense a real appetite at the DNR to dig into and absorb the divisive issues that come with the application - - a matter I have written about earlier.

My experience in and around public policy-making is that an agency - - even a regulator - - hates it when one arm of government kicks its problem down the road, but does move efficiently and relatively quickly if it feels that the initiating arm of government has done its due diligence and has all its ducks line up - - across the board.

Yet if and when the Waukesha water application gets its full-scale DNR review, with public hearings at various stages along the way, it becomes the DNR's job to sell to the seven other Great Lakes states a precedent-setting agreement with the DNR label all over it.

As I said - - draw you own conclusion about the process so far.

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