This is the heart of Cheryl Nenn's fine op-ed on behalf of a coalition of environmental organizations about Waukesha's proposed Lake Michigan diversion:
The Great Lakes compact, a landmark agreement reached just five years ago by eight states and two Canadian provinces, allows for lake diversions only when "no other reasonable supply alternatives are available." For some of the communities in the expanded [Waukesha] service area, there is no need for an alternative water supply, and communities are planning to continue using existing water sources.
Our group, the Compact Implementation Coalition, is not against the diversion per se. Our mission is to work to ensure effective implementation of the compact as part of a greater effort to protect the lakes for many generations to come. Everyone deserves access to safe, sustainable water. The question for Waukesha is how to provide safe water for its citizens in the most responsible way, while also meeting the compact's legal requirements.
The compact is designed to prohibit diversions, creating exceptions under very strict standards for communities such as Waukesha that are wholly outside the Great Lakes basin. Allowing Waukesha to do any less than what is required in the compact would compromise this historic interstate agreement that protects 95% of the U.S. surface fresh water supply. We do not believe that Waukesha has made a compelling case that it meets these standards, and ultimately it is the city's job to prove it has met these standards.