Saturday, July 28, 2012

How Stalled Is Waukesha's Water Diversion Application? Some Perspective

You can get an idea of how slowly the City of Waukesha's Lake Michigan water diversion application is moving (the DNR is conducting the first of many reviews, with an Environmental Impact Statement procedure, plus reviews in seven other states and two Canadian provinces yet to happen) by reading through this posting from May, 2009:

Basic questions still on the table were being asked for the record and at public meetings years ago:

...Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson confirmed that Waukesha will forward a diversion application by the end of this year, but will ask for permission to withdraw 25% less water, or up to 18.5 million gallons daily, than the 24 million gallons discussed earlier, Nelson said.
Eighteen-and-a-half million gallons is still twice Waukesha's daily usage, and even with growth and likely annexations adding future water utility customers, it is still not clear why Waukesha would seek such a substantial surplus of water.
Some other interesting nuggets from the meeting:
Nelson said even though Waukesha had nine years in which to fully meet federal clean water mandates,  the city would be moving forward with its diversion application now because of the complex, multi-state review, and because there could be delays if groups opposing a diversion filed a lawsuit, or if one of the Great Lakes states turned down the application and Waukesha needed to litigate.
Nelson also said Waukesha would soon release lengthy responses to a set of questions posed to the city months ago by local and statewide conservation and environmental groups.
A link to the questions, submitted nearly five months ago, is here.
Among those concerns are:
How will Waukesha manage to send back treated water to Lake Michigan through a yet-to-be named tributary - - perhaps Underwood Creek, or the Root River - - without causing flooding or environmental damage to the tributary;
Will Waukesha will agree to close off its existing wells, or keep them in reserve;
Does Waukesha intend to discharge some treated diverted water into the Fox River through its existing sewage treatment plant knowing that the water will flow towards the Mississippi River, not the Great Lakes, as required by the Great Lakes Compact?
In fact, some of these questions go back to 2006 and pre-date the adoption of the Great Lakes Compact now governing Waukesha's current diversion application:
Environmentalists and others concerned about suburban sprawl question the need for a diversion of Lake Michigan surface water to Waukesha.

They argue that Waukesha needs to better manage the water resources it has and that receiving fresh supplies of Lake Michigan water would encourage even faster growth and more diversions elsewhere.

Questions about how underground water moves to, from and near Lake Michigan, and how surface and underground waters in the region interact are at the center of widespread legal, political and academic debate in Wisconsin, and across the Great Lakes.

Continuing scientific work by federal and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers, and by staff and consultants for the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, should produce more facts and interpretations about the science of water in the next 12-18 months.

Those findings could help the legislature write Annex-implementing legislation in 2007, and several Wisconsin environmental and wildlife organizations want the new law to strengthen provisions concerning diversions, conservation planning and public participation in water policy-making.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll be waiting for approval from the DNR within the next 2 months. By then the source of the diversion will have been identified, the Town will have decided whether it will be annexed,and the DNR will have completed it EIS to get that application moving to the public hearing process (the first of 2).