Sunday, December 2, 2012

Barrett Shows Flaws In Regional Water Pitch; One More Flaw Exposed Here

State Rep. Jeff Stone, (R-Greendale), and Rich Meeusen, the CEO of water-industry leader Badger Meter had written a Journal Sentinel op-ed two weeks ago arguing that a regional water authority, or RWA should be created to push water and aid growth for Waukesha and elsewhere in Southeastern Wisconsin.

Meeusen and Stone focused on:

...resolving the question of how to provide water to the growing community of Waukesha and the economic engine it has become...

The RWA would create economies of scale that would benefit customers in all the communities, and a permanent long-term solution would create a positive environment for economic development moving forward...
We can establish a permanent solution for water service in the region, creating a stable environment for economic development...and we would invite all the mayors of Oak Creek, Waukesha, Franklin and any other impacted communities to come together with us to solve this issue and move our region forward together with shared benefits for all our citizens.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has dissected the Stone-Meeusen proposal with a Journal Sentinel response op-ed today.

Barrett focuses on the Great Lakes Compact - - the 2008 water management and conservation agreement protecting a world-class water resource. The Compact is cooperative with Canada and two of its provinces; Compact standards, goals and procedures are now embedded in US and eight states' laws, including Wisconsin's, from Minnesota to New York State.

In other words, its reach and purposes extend far beyond the mini-region Stone and Meeusen are addressing.

Said Barrett:
This "regional" approach however breaks down when it is held up to the basic requirements of the Great Lakes compact....

The compact makes it clear that diversions outside the basin are generally prohibited.

I have stated many times that I am willing to negotiate an agreement to sell safe, affordable water to the City of Waukesha for use in its current service area. What I am not willing to do is violate the Great Lakes compact by selling Lake Michigan water to communities within Waukesha's proposed expanded service area that have not demonstrated potable water needs.
In addition to reminding Stone and Meeusen that the Great Lakes Compact is not a blueprint for water-driven development, there's a glaring mistake in their op-ed that suggests they are relatively unfamiliar with the Compact, or how it works.

In the second sentence of their op-ed's opening paragraph, Stone and Meeusen say:
It is unfortunate for everyone in the region that we have not yet found a way to solve the issue of providing Lake Michigan water to one of the straddling communities that, under the Great Lakes compact, may be entitled to such water. 
No: Under the Compact, Waukesha is not a "straddling community."

Under the Compact, Waukesha is a community in a "straddling county." 

It's a big difference, legally and procedurally.

Were Waukesha a straddling community that actually touched the boundary of the Great Lakes basin, its diversion application under the Compact would need only an approval from the State of Wisconsin. No other state could veto it.

That the simpler process which allowed the City of New Berlin, a true straddling community, to get its diversion plan approved by the DNR a few years ago, with Milwaukee the designated seller.

But as a community completely outside the Great Lakes basin - - eligible to apply for a diversion only because the Waukesha County line straddles the basin boundary (no water can be diverted to a county that does not touch the basin boundary) - - the City of Waukesha's diversion application is subject under the Compact to a more rigorous review, and needs, for implementation, the unanimous approval of all eight Great Lakes states.

If Waukesha were only a straddling community - - as was New Berlin - - under the Compact, Waukesha Water Utility piping contractors would no doubt already be laying pipe, as the Waukesha application was written two-and-a-half years ago.

With Waukesha's high-profile diversion application already on the table and a matter of controversy, people proposing an RWA should do their homework about the Compact before suggesting another vehicle to tap the Great Lakes.


Anonymous said...

With the current sertvice area defined by SEWRPC and accepted by the DNR the application is dead.

Tom Barrett is once again reiterating one of a number of obvious flaws to the application and other flawed concepts subject to review for compliance with the terms and conditions Wisconsin agreed to as a party jointly and severly liability to the Great Lakes Compact.
Waukesha needs new blood on it's Common Council. A transfusion might save the city from further financial hemorrhaging.

Anonymous said...

It seems like Waukesha and Oak Creek gave the single finger salute to the Wisconsin PSC by intentionally striking a deal which screwed the Waukesha rate payers and ignored the PSC ruling in the Franklin/Oak Creek rate determination.

Well that would certainly move the application along with the DNR without a court ruling regardless that the PSC has informed the DNR that statutory authority in the approval of a delivery system and rate structures is theirs.

Not real smart Waukesha.

Then there's the Town of Waukesha. Since a supplier has inked the deal we should here from the Town Chair in the next 2 weeks on a thumbs or thumbs down for inclusion in the service area.

Since the application is defective thanks to SEWRPC we'll see who's the brightest, or dimmest, bulb in the box.

Water Lily said...

I'm reposting here a comment I just posted today in response to the Meeusen/Stone Op Ed in the 11/17/12 JS:

Another bad idea, this time promoted by a pair of big-fish, small-pond Babbits. Why don't you two work on making good the promise of the M7 Water Technology Committee and figure out how to turn Milwaukee and the other 6 counties into the "water hub" that's so often talked about, but little realized? Try seeking out green/blue technologies that will be the wave of the future instead of dragging us back to the primordial mud. New technologies and smash-the-box thinking, combined with visionary utilization of Wisconsin's natural resource wealth could become the economic engine that drives not only the Milwaukee, Waukesha and other M-7 economies, but all of Wisconsin, perhaps even the Great Lakes region.

The water engine of innovative green/blue technologies could use for fuel Wisconsin's truly world-class university system: hub in Madison, satellites around the state, including UW-M and the School of Freshwater Sciences right here. The best part? The INFRASTRUCTURE IS ALREADY IN PLACE! Re-fund our universities and work to make college education affordable to everyone who wants to and qualifies to attend. Instead of defunding public primary education, INVEST in it and in Wisconsin's kids and our future. This will create jobs, attract the creative class back to Wisconsin and stop the brain drain. This educational environment will nurture the young minds that will build our future.

Instead of allowing realtors to block wind projects, road-builders to derail rail projects and mining companies to drag resource protection back to the 19th century, we must make policies that propel us forward and upward, not backward and downward.
We must re-fund and re-commit to natural resources protection, because when we have used up and polluted these, it won't matter how many strip malls we've built. Instead of scolding School of Freshwater Sciences Director David Garman for not toeing the party line, (see May 19, 2012 JS guest opinion: “Waukesha Needs Innovative Thinking”)why not tap his world class brains–not to mention his global experience—for ideas we might not have heard of before in our protective bubble?

We don't need “world class talent” to manage business.** That’s Babbit-think. We need “world class talent” to generate world-changing ideas, invent the inconceivable, solve the problems that we know are heading toward us as well as the ones we haven’t even thought of yet.
We need vision. We need to be bold. We need leadership.
If M-7 were to pop its collective head out of WMC's rear end, you’ll be amazed at how much can be seen. Go toward the light.

**World class talent" managed Wall Street banks and look how that turned out. Anyone can manage if trained. Wield some “management-class” management at WEDC which desperately needs to be run like a business, so that its loans can be repaid and lent out to emerging businesses.

Betsey said...

@ Anonymous 5:31 AM:

The clock will start ticking on the Town of Waukesha (for 30 days) once a letter from the DNR is received, informing the Town that a deal has been reached.