The Moving Target That Is Waukesha's Water Diversion Plan
This summation of just one new wrinkle in the City of Waukesha application for a Lake Michigan diversion highlights all the problems with a document that is still incomplete, has yet to fully reviewed by the DNR, is nearly three years old - - but which is based on assumptions that continue to change.
What changes, you ask?
Since its adoption by the Waukesha Common Council in April, 2010:
* A new water supplier for Waukesha has been identified - - Oak Creek instead of Milwaukee - - which contributes to increases in the application's initial $164 million cost projection to $200 million:
Cost of building pipes and pumping stations needed to carry the water to Waukesha and return most of it to the lake in the form of treated wastewater is estimated at $183 million. Inflation could push the final price to $200 million as the request goes through a multi-state review, [Waukesha water utility general manager Daniel] Duchniak said.* A new water supply service mapped territory. The regional planning commission, (SEWRPC), has been asked to redraw and shrink the service area map because the Town of Waukesha - - which SEWRPC did not consult with in the first place - - now wants nearly all of its Town land removed.
* And with a smaller proposed service territory, presumably there should be a new, reduced proposed daily diversion of water and return flow? The application asks for 10.9 million gallons daily, on average. Is that figure still justifiable for a smaller service territory, and does not that raise the value of conservation and other supply alternatives?
* A return flow scheme now apparently using the Root River and Racine as a discharge point, and not Underwood Creek, the initial and preferred alternative tied to Milwaukee as the water supplier.
Every one of these changes and others that fall like dominos as a result cries out for fresh public input.
All those 1000 pages of the application read and studied so thoroughly 3 years ago by the confident Waukesha Common Council, now circular filed.
How much money is this costing Waukesha Water Utility customers? The Water Utility Manager got a fat raise and longevity bonus package. The consulting lawyers seem to be permanent employees on the payroll.
When is the application going to be submitted to the Council of Great Lakes Governors?
3 years is long enough to demonstrate that the process is so complex and the bar so high that Waukesha's application of arrogance has no chance. The Common Council needs to step in and re-correct the course of the ship and save face.
It's time for the Waukesha Aldermen and women to start seeking solid answers from the Utility manager - by referral - so as to have Dan explain his drop dead deadline and the increased chances of not meeting it.
There needs to be accountability for this empty showing and seemingly endless spending for naught. Waukesha cannot prosper with this style of management.
Racine Journal Times:
"Waukesha Water Talks Start"
July - Expected approval of the Great Lakes Application Waukesha sent to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources two years ago.
March - Expected approval of Waukesha's Great Lakes Application by the other Great Lakes States."
It's mid March 2013.
An application of this significance drafted by several attorneys and seemingly has so many flaws that it's taken 3 years for approval from Wisconsin (if it's approved this year.) The application signals a weakness to make the case of whether Waukesha, at this time, can demonstrate a true need without alternatives for a diversion from Lake Michigan.
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