Thursday, May 14, 2015

Facts and chatter about Waukesha, water & DNR activity

There is movement on Waukesha's precedent-setting proposal to divert water from Lake Michigan.

*  Fact: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has announced it is within weeks or releasing information about its lengthy review of Waukesha's diversion paperwork. 

When the release of information takes place, a comment period clock will begin and public hearings will be held, too. 

Presumably, the DNR will say it finds that Waukesha's application meets the standards for diversions allowed outside of the boundaries of the Great Lakes basin by a 2008, multi-state, US and Canadian water management compact.

And the agency will probably say is satisfied that Waukesha has properly evaluated all possible and reasonable alternatives to its preferred option - - the inflow water supply pipe from Oak Creek's water utility to Waukesha and what may be the more controversial portion of the application - - the disposal of the water as treated wastewater into the Root River at a site in Franklin to flow through Racine and into its lake harbor.

So comments would focus on those two pieces of the diversion plan, as well as on the plan's cost, environmental impacts, and so on.

*  Fact: All eight US Great Lakes states must unanimously approve such an application - - a single "no" vote stalls it for adjustments or perhaps kills it - - so a final determination not just by the WI DNR but by all the other states is still a long way off, and is not guaranteed. If the DNR moves the application to the other states for the review, the DNR has to sell the application's legitimacy.

* Fact: Canadian provincial officials and First Nations (with status similar to sovereign US Native American tribes) in Canada can play an advisory, consulting role under the 2008 agreement but have no vote or veto over a plan submitted by a US state.

Expect the states to listen carefully to that advice, as the Great Lakes belong to both countries and Canadian public opinion and officials' positions on these issues cannot be taken for granted, as some have already said.

*  Chatter: Walker's office is said to have let the DNR know the boss wanted the agency to get the ball rolling. That would make sense, since the DNR's former powerful DNR Deputy Secretary, Atty. Matt Moroney, is now a special adviser in the Governor's office.

And the longer the process goes, the more it could become an issue for Walker as his presidential campaign proceeds. Since some of the diverted water would go to fuel sprawl development, does Walker want to be seen promoting a precedent-setting water-for-growth plan while other portions of the country deal with precedent-setting drought?

* Chatter: Diversion supporters are counting on solid support among other conservative Great Lakes GOP Governors, like Michigan's Snyder, Indiana's Pence and Ohio's Kasich, but who says  New York's Democratic Gov. Cuomo or Minnesota's Dayton wouldn't play the same game?

Then this little story bubbling up Tuesday about Waukesha now designating it's slow-motion water planning a crisis and doing something about in Washington, DC:
Later today, Daniel Duchniak, the city's water utility general manager, is heading to Washington, D.C. to talk about a proposal to tap into Lake Michigan.
Some background about the whole delayed application process, here.

Chatter: Presumably, this DC trip - - not the advocates' first - - was in pursuit of a huge earmark Waukesha has been talking about for years to bail the city and its water utility out of some portion of the diversion expense, now having ballooned past $200 million, given the more expensive routing of water from Oak Creek that Waukesha finally chose.

It's beyond me how the County seat of one of the richest, and reddest counties around, and in a state where the government is all about cutting spending and killing off entitlements would expect this kind of a handout.


Anonymous said...

Nothing but the best for Walkersha.

Anonymous said...

The states are going to listen carefully to what Canada and Native Americans have to say?

Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin will not listen. They have their marching orders.

Minnesota & New York will and will cite their concerns in their veto vote. Pennsylvania will probably do likewise.

Ernest Martinson said...

It is a reformed market that should approve or disapprove the Waukesha water diversion application and not the 8 US Great Lakes states. It is due to bad politics that water is now underpriced..
Governor Scott Walker could make a big splash by replacing water subsidies with higher water rates on his way to Washington. This he will not do due to people’s demand for underpriced water.

Anonymous said...

More Republican "do as we say, not as we do" garbage. Glad to hear One WI make the statement, and should be the one and only message on billbaords.

Joe R said...

Any day now, we can expect a statement from Walker saying that it's time to reform the Great Lakes Compact and bring about long-overdue efficiencies and flexibilities that will benefit the hard-working taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

The Waukesha Water Utility does niot have sufficient ability to bond for this project. In fact, the City of Waukesha will go deep into debt and "borrow" it's bonding to the Utility. Before any of this happens, they will need to get approval for a rate increase fromn the PSC to have a revenue stream for bonding. Without the federal funding component, this project is a pipe dream. It's far too expensive for the community to afford.

It's not going to pass anyway. Moot points.

Anonymous said...

If you're the face of the application and you go on Channel 12 and say that the deep aquifer continues to decline, how do you explain your recent acknowledgement that the aquifer is in fact rising, to the Council of Great Lakes Governors?

Anyone? Bill McClenahan?