Thursday, November 18, 2010

Waukesha Border Water War Has Barely Begun

The City of Waukesha's current struggle with the smaller, more rural Town of Waukesha - - currently a legal fight over the City's effort, through condemnation, to acquire raw land in the Town beneath which is a shallow well source - - will inevitably get bigger and more costly for both parties.

That is because the City has embarked on a more complex, longer-term water supply alternative to both the shallow well property in the Town and the City's over-pumped deeper wells which do not meet federal radium standards.

The deep well water can be cleaned, but the City has applied for permission to tap into Lake Michigan by pipeline - - an extremely costly and controversial process about which I have written on this blog scores of times in the last few years.

And the City has over-reached by saying in the application that it intends to extend Lake Michigan water into undeveloped land across its borders, primarily into the Town.

That water service extension - - details and commentary here - - could set off annexation activity in the Town, producing development, road-building and lifestyle changes that the Town does not want.

I expect that if the City's application for Lake Michigan water moves forward to a formal review by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - and so far, that process is dead in the water - - and eventually to all seven other Great Lakes states for what must be unanimous consent,  I believe it is going to need approval also from the Town.

Simply because the City has included it in the service territory into which some of the water is to be exported.

If you think the fight over access to the Town's shallow well land is the entire border battle, just wait.

And I haven't even mentioned the water war's other front: if the diversion permission is gained from all the Great Lakes states - - which means The City of Waukesha and the DNR somehow settle on a legal and tolerable method for returning the water to the lake - -  the City of Waukesha still has to strike an affordable and politically tolerable water purchase deal either from Oak Creek, Racine or Milwaukee.

A very tall order.


Eddee said...

Maybe Waukesha county is simply a place where there should be a limit to growth, just as there are places in the arid West that should not be open to growth.

Anonymous said...

Many things would be solved by scrapping the "water to Waukesha" proposal entirely. Pressure seems to be working---persistence is necessary.

Bill McClenahan said...

In fact, Waukesha’s application is all about sustainability – switching to a water supply that can be recycled back to the source, instead of causing drawdowns in the groundwater and associated environmental impacts.

Wisconsin’s Compact implementation law requires the regional planning agency, SEWRPC, to designate the service area. That law also requires the any application for water to accommodate growth. Under the law, the plan shall include “ forecasts of the expected population of the area during the period covered by the plan based on growth projections for the area and municipally planned population densities” and “shall specify a withdrawal amount for the public water supply system equal to . . . [t]he amount needed for the public water supply system to provide a public water supply in the water supply service area in the plan during the period covered by the plan, as determined using the population and related service projections in the plan.”

It is disingenuous to criticize Waukesha for following the law and for taking an anti-planning position.

The growth in the service area designated by SEWRPC under the law is modest and generally coincides with the existing sewer service area. Most of the land is already developed or will not be developed. Water service is not offered to areas unless requested.

missing sather gate said...

Mr. Bill, it is time for you and your client, the city of Waukesha, to stop the rhetoric around the term “sustainability”. Sustainability requires a fundamental change in how we think and act as a society. Sustainability is social goal, not an engineering or a scientific goal. The City of Waukesha’s Water Supply Plan is all about pumps and pipes and nothing about “sustainability”. You have “branded” this public works project falsely. The City of Waukesha’s Water Supply Plan uses out-dated and inappropriate assumptions and basically old thinking. If the city of Waukesha, is planning a sustainable future, then the City must plan to meet human and ecological needs with the water that is available right there. That is what water sustainability means. I am disappointed that the City chooses to “brand” their application for a Lake Michigan Water Supply as sustainable. In fact I find this reckless. But that’s what you get when one of the City’s rate payers or taxpayers paid water consultants is a Public Relations Specialist.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McClenahan, aren’t you the public relations consultant paid by the City of Waukesha to advance their Lake Michigan Water Application? I believe you are being paid $13,000 a month to carry the City’s water bucket. Reading and posting on the Political Environmental Blog and getting paid, what a GIG!! Do you have to get the OK from the Mayor and the Water Utility to post or does your contract just let you do it???? I think it is just great that the City of Waukesha water users, ratepayers and taxpayers pay consultants to read and post comments on blogs. Are these the types of jobs Governor-elect Scott Walker is going to create in Wisconsin. If so, where do I get an application??

Boxer said...


"The growth in the service area designated by SEWRPC under the law is modest and generally coincides with the existing sewer service area. Most of the land is already developed or will not be developed. Water service is not offered to areas unless requested."

Yet you base your wildly overestimated request on this.

Why don't you just admit that Waukesha plans to gobble up the townships (not only the Town of Waukesha) and develop as much within and to the edges of the service plan area as possible?

Talk about disingenuous!

Please stop using the term sustainability. No one is fooled that you or your client gives a hoot about actually sustaining anything. The only thing that you're sustaining is your hefty monthly retainer. Congrats on that, by the way! I wish the City would hand over $12,500 / month of taxpayer money to me -- with no accountability.