Waukesha Looks To Prompt Diversion Reviews; History Suggests Otherwise
The Waukesha Freeman reported last week that the city's water utility expected to clear a multiplicity of local, state, Canadian provincial and eight-US states' technical review and hearing hurdles in a matter of months - - the application is the first of its kind, so is in genuinely uncharted waters - - and will meet with diverted Lake Michigan water a federally-ordered June 2018 water supply provision deadline:
Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak said the application will be finalized and submitted to the DNR by July 8. Pending timely approvals, infrastructure construction is slated to begin March 1, 2015, he said.Remember what happened when the City of New Berlin, as a courtesy not mandated by law (for Waukesha, however, all eight US states must assent; the Canadians get advisory status), had its request for a smaller diversion sent to the other Great Lakes and Canadian provinces sent for a review?
Michigan immediately said "no review."
MILWAUKEE -- While reams of copy and hours of meetings have been devoted to whether the City of Waukesha would -- or should -- apply for a controversial diversion of water from Lake Michigan, the City of New Berlin has, without fanfare, sent an application for diversion permission of its own to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.Then there were more objections, so the process went slowly - - and Waukesha has long been advised to expect as a "certainty" that one or more states would say "no" because the application was insufficient:
Almost as quietly, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm refused to even consider the request, showing the easiest solution to Waukesha's water woes faces big hurdles.
In fact, at one early public discussion in the Waukesha Common Council chambers, Great Lakes water expert Peter Annin told the assemblage that if there was one certainty in the diversion review process, it was that at least one state would send the whole thing back for more work.
Some years ago, New Berlin asked for a relatively small diversion from Milwaukee, and even though the review required a lower-level of approval than what Waukesha will face because of geographical and legal factors, the initial draft needed a lot of revisions that delayed the eventual approvals.
...the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has advised the City of New Berlin that its 2006 application for a diversion - - touted last year by the DNR as "complete and comprehensive" - - must be clarified and expanded.And when the DNR sent the New Berlin application to the other states for a mere advisory review - - Waukesha's will require a much tougher analysis, with the states actually formally saying "aye" or "nay," with unanimity required- - the reviews as submitted to the DNR, and summarized below, were downright ugly:
In at least 26 categories of "efficient water use," "water supply alternatives." and "environmental impacts," according to a letter received last month by New Berlin officials and consultants.
New York: On Aug. 15, New York officials said the application was without key studies, complete data, adequate water supply descriptions, enough system and geological maps and “descriptions of the situation and feasible options.”
New York opined that there was “no evidence that the applicant is aware of or familiar with the full range of applicable state and national regulations, laws, agreements or treaties” and cited other deficiencies or possible inaccuracies. Additionally, New York observed that “the statement of no cumulative impacts is unsupported by any data in the document and does not address potential cumulative impacts to Lake Michigan water levels, shoreline, other users, water-dependent natural resources, etc.”
Illinois: On July 14, Illinois officials suggested the application could be strengthened with data of “forecasts of future water use, both inside and outside the Great Lakes basin.” Illinois also suggested that New Berlin extend its sprinkling ban, evaluate the effectiveness of its conservation planning, and expand its search for well-water alternatives to its proposed Lake Michigan diversion that could eliminate the need for a diversion.
Michigan: On Sept. 25, the state of Michigan said it would not begin a formal review until a full-scale diversion application was received. On Oct. 31, its attorney general said that without a formal application meeting federal standards provided by the U.S. Water Resources Development Act, New Berlin could not proceed.
Mr. Duchniack informed the Waukesha Common COuncil that assurances have been given by the Council of Great Lakes Governors that the review process will be completed a timely review of 4 to 5 months.
Then again, everyone was told by Mr. Duchniack the drop dead date to begin construction was June 1st, 2013. Now we're being given a new drop dead month and year of March, 2015. That would be for a further supply and return system from Oak Creek.
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