In a posting yesterday, I reprinted an account from the Waukesha Freeman about a water policy panel discussion last week where predictions of litigation over Waukesha's Great Lakes water diversion application were aired.
I've also been told that panelists opined that litigation would occur no matter whether the application were denied or approved.
Here is the account I quoted:
Consisting of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, “Great Lakes Water Wars” author Peter Annin and Milwaukee Riverkeeper Cheryl Nenn, the panel discussed Waukesha’s application for Lake Michigan water in front of a packed room at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center on Wednesday...
The water service area is created by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, not Waukesha, but Annin said the larger service area makes Waukesha’s application more vulnerable to a veto by another state than it would have been otherwise.
“No matter what happens, this is going to get challenged in federal court,” Annin said.[Side note: Annin is speaking about the Compact this evening in Milwaukee. Details, here.]
But seeing the word "litigation" in the context of Waukesha and diverting water reminded me of another story about Waukesha's strategy for a Lake Michigan diversion written even before the Great Lakes Compact of 2008 was finally negotiated and signed.
It was a story I wrote in 2006 as a freelancer for WisOpinion.com after I discovered in the files of the Waukesha Water Utility through an Open Records request that Waukesha had made two confidential entreaties to the Doyle administration for diversion permission. without the other Great Lakes states' approval.
The requests went unanswered by the Doyle administration.
Anyway: here is a link to the story and a sentence or two:
...behind the scenes, the utility is playing hardball, tasking its lawyers with trying to win state support for a jaw-dropping plan: obtaining its desired supply of fresh water from Lake Michigan without having to apply to regional regulators as a new diverter, or get the approval of the other Great Lakes states or be required to return an equal amount of water to the basin for treatment and replenishment.
Lawyers at Godfrey & Kahn, S.C., under contract to the utility, twice this spring proposed to Gov. Jim Doyle that the state allow the city of Waukesha access to Lake Michigan on terms that would help avoid litigation, according to documents obtained from the utility under the Wisconsin Open Records law.
Dropping “litigation” into discussions of Great Lakes water policy-making is like throwing a grenade into a plywood shack.
Litigation could have set off political and environmental consequences across the Great Lakes region, lead to countersuits, and undo years of recently-concluded negotiations among the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces....
Waukesha Water Utility general manager Dan Duchniak said in a Wednesday interview in his office that “the last thing we want is litigation.”
Duchniak said that the utility was exploring several water-supply options, including new well sites as well as Lake Michigan water with return-flow.