Monday, November 24, 2014

Getting Waukesha's water diversion plan right, with the right questions

It was more than five years ago that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gave thumbs up to the City of Waukesha's precedent-setting and controversial plan to divert water out of the Great Lakes basin, with this admonition:
The city needs to get this right...
Yet over the weekend, the paper editorially acknowledged that the diversion application is stalled at the Wisconsin DNR - - an agency certainly not noted these past four years for dragging its feet on business-friendly proposals - - and backed Waukesha's intention to ask for another two years to win the necessary approvals and begin building what it had pledged, under a court decree it signed, to have completed with open taps by June, 2018.

Maybe the editorial board needs to ask some tougher questions of Waukesha's water planners about their transparency, expertise, strategy and spending, and about Waukesha's refusal to consider a plan "B," since it is up to Wisconsin, seven other Great Lakes states, two Canadian provinces and Canadian First Nation tribes under the Congressionally-approved/US President-signed/Canadian government-ratified Great Lakes Compact and law to review the Waukesha diversion application.

This is the way that Waukesha City Administrator Ed Henschel was quoted in The Freeman last Thursday:
Henschel said in [a recently-disclosed] memo that the city isn’t pursuing a “plan B” at this point. 

“The application shows that a Lake Michigan water supply is the only reasonable  water supply option,” Henschel said in the memo.
Under the Compact, if one US Great Lakes state Governor says "no," the Waukesha plan roll of the dice would remain stalled, and without a satisfactory but time consuming delay, perhaps sunk forever.

So why no "Plan B," since it's there for serious consideration without the Compact's complexities through greater conservation, added deep well filtration and some use of local shallow aquifer and Fox River supplies.

Even the robotically-pro-business, environment-dismissing Scott Walker has to understand that breaking the Compact and ordering a diversion on behalf of his deepest red voters would be a continental and global catastrophe in an era of growing water scarcity.

If Walker were to go it alone, it would be today Waukesha, tomorrow Las Vegas, the day-after -tomorrow Phoenix, Los Angeles - - and by ocean-going tanker ship, Asia.

Don't laugh: It was a Great Lakes water-to-Asia tanker plan that led the Great Lakes states and the Canadians to set the Compact into motion and protect these waters from unwise and unsustainable diversions.

Details of the city's flawed plan, and its hurry-up-and-wait water history, here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why not pursue "Plan B", you ask?

Because Waukesha has to demonstrate that it has no other alternative AND it's been recently reported that the deep aquifer isn't declining, it's been increasing for over 10 years.

I certain that a judge reviewing Waukesha's request would have consideration, weighted considerations, about any excuse to grant an extension as truthful.

Before Waukesha would even try to convince a judge to grant an extension, they would need to show reasoning.

Reasoning would be that they have all the necessary approvals to begin construction.

They hope to have all approvals by the end of 2015.


Expect at least 1 no vote from one state. Then expect a very expensive lawsuit that will be very slow going through the courts.

Whala, It's June 2018 and a fine of $40,000 (4 non-compliant wells?) per day.

Thank you Dan Warren.