Thursday, April 21, 2016

Scores of Great Lakes officials oppose Waukesha diversion

[Updated from 4/20/16, 10:29 p.m.] The Great Lakes governors meeting in Chicago today and Friday to consider Waukesha's application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water - - which includes a plan to make that water available to undeveloped land beyond its city limits to neighboring communities which have not expressed a need for Great Lakes water - - should take to heart some earlier opposition across the region to a previous but smaller diversion to another Wisconsin community.

And the regional officials should pay close attention to the more recent comments in opposition by the Wisconsin legislator whose relatively low income district's flood-prone river would be required to take Waukesha's daily treated waste water discharge.

And also to the studied findings of several Wisconsin environmental and conservation groups.

And pay close attention to the opposition by a key figure in the history of Great Lakes water management and also to fresh opposition to the Waukesha plan by dozens of US and Canadian elected officials, summarized yesterday, below:
Mayors Urge Governors and Premiers to Reject Waukesha Application
Historic, precedent-setting Great Lakes water diversion application to be discussed this week

April 20, 2016

Today, Mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative call on the Governors and Premiers of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin to reject the Waukesha Water Diversion Application and uphold the Great Lakes Compact and Agreement. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body, which is responsible for implementing the Compact and Agreement, is holding a special meeting on the Application in Chicago on April 21, which is the last formal opportunity for Ontario and Quebec to be heard.  To this day, 17 Canadian cities have passed resolutions opposing the water diversion (view resolutions at 
The Cities Initiative, a group of 122 local government leaders from the United States and Canada representing over 17 million people, is opposed to the water diversion because it does not comply with the Compact in several ways.  First, the water service area goes well beyond the city limits of Waukesha. Second, there are reasonable alternatives for Waukesha to provide safe drinking water to its residents.  Third, there are significant questions about what the return flow would do to the Root River on its way back to Lake Michigan.  All of these add up to the bad precedent an approval would set when the Compact created a very strictly limited exception for cities and counties on the borders of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin. 
“We urge the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec to use this last opportunity to oppose this application and uphold the Compact”, said Mayor Mitch Twolan of Huron-Kinloss, ON, chair of the Cities Initiative. “The US and Canada came together to protect our lakes and river by creating the Compact and Agreement, and it is time to affirm our commitment to our shared resources by rejecting the application.” 
Mayor John Dickert, of Racine, WI, where the diverted water would be returned to Lake Michigan through the Root River, added: “The impacts on the Root River were not analyzed properly. We do not want Waukesha’s return flow to disrupt years of efforts and millions of dollars invested in making the river and our waterfront a key economic driver for our city.” 
Mayor Randy Hope, of Chatham-Kent, ON expressed his concerns by saying: “My fellow Canadian mayors and I look to the eight governors with a watchful eye. We want to protect our vital water resources and stop this effort that is contrary to the Compact’s limited exception. We do not want this dangerous precedent set by Waukesha.” 
“My city of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, along with many other members of the Cities Initiative, passed a resolution opposing the Waukesha Diversion Application”, said Salaberry-de-Valleyfield Mayor Denis Lapointe. “Cities have shown their leadership by protecting and respecting the water that travels to us via the St. Lawrence River. We urge the Regional Body members to oppose the Application.” 
The Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of 122 mayors, representing over 17 million people, who work together to protect, restore and sustain the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin. To learn more, visit our website at 

David Ullrich                                                  
Executive Director
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
312-480-6501 (Cell)

Simon Belisle
Program Manager
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
773-512-3788 (Cell)

Mayor Mitch Twolan
Chair, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
Mayor, Town of Huron-Kinloss, ON
Warden, County of Bruce, ON

Mayor John Dickert
Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
Mayor, City of Racine, WI

Mayor Randy Hope
Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
Mayor, Municipality of Chatham-Kent, ON

Mayor Sandra Cooper
Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
Mayor, Town of Collingwood, ON
705-445-8451 ext. 3226

Mayor Keith Hobbs
Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
Mayor, Thunder Bay, ON

Mayor Paul Dyster
Secretary-Treasurer, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
Mayor, Niagara Falls, NY


Bill Sell said...


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Ullrich,

As the Regional Body convenes in Chicago today to deliberate Waukesha's Great Lakes Diversion Exception application, I would please ask that you please pass to all the along to all the members of the Initiative a hardy THANK YOU from the many residents of the City of Waukesha in support of your position.

There has never been a more divisive and politically driven issue in our city.

There is one key provision in the compact that is being overlooked that is an issue at heart to every mayor in your organization. The issue is how a diversion exemption will impact socioeconomics on ratepayers.

For the customers of the Waukesha Water Utility in the city, that is to say not those in the expanded service area, we would be the ones paying for a $207 million capital project. We are currently spending $74 million upgrade to the sewerage treatment plant. In addition to the O&M costs for the system, we would needlessly be purchasing water from another community.

Our water bill alone would have a significant fiscal impact on our poor, elderly, handicapped, and minority populations. Meanwhile, the future customers in the wealthier expanded service area communities would get an "insurance policy" in the event of a well failure.

Not only are there multiple shortcomings with this precedent application, it is morally and ethically discriminatory by nature.

Again we, residents of the city of Waukesha, WI, thank you for your organization's recommendation of a rejection of the application as we pray for at least 1 NO vote from the Great Lakes Governors.


Steve Edlund
Waukesha, WI

Anonymous said...

But Scotty Walker has proclaimed all opposition to be partisan. He want's to be the great unifier. He wants this to be approved to build his presidential credentials when his buddy GOP chair hijacks the party's nomination.

Since Walker has proclaimed all opposition to be divisive politics, we must approve this to heal our nations and bring the U.S. and Canada back together before we build the great wall between us that Walker proposed when he ran for the White House.

Anonymous said...

There is currently an enlarging corporate competitive war to gain control of global water resources. When Walker was in France, he visited one of these water privatization giants. With an already lrge footprint in the U.S., I have little doubt they are watching the Waukesha application process. And I'll not be surprised by any results. It's a pay-to-play world.

neroden@gmail said...

Walker may have seized temporary control of Wisconsin, but he has zero power over the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, etc.