Friday, March 3, 2017

Waukesha elevates regional focus of its Lake Michigan diversion

The City of Waukesha, whose permissions for a precedent-setting diversion of Great Lakes water beyond the boundaries of Lake Michigan still face some reviews, has launched a PR campaign to goose along this long-delayed process as it also searches for federal funding as it has for years as early as 2013 to ease the sting of a price tag that has ballooned to a projected $206 million from $78 million.

The new PR effort has a website that gives the proposed diversion a name - - "The Great Water Alliance" - - and emphasizes its regional impact, according to Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak:

“When French explorers first reached the shores of Wisconsin, they asked the native people what the lake was called. Their response was, ‘michigami,’ which in the original Ojibwe means ‘Great Water,’” said Duchniak. “Now, more than three centuries later, a groundbreaking new water supply program is poised to translate michigami into great water again…this time for the people of Waukesha.”
The Great Water Alliance program will involve a pair of new underground pipelines. Current plans call for the first to begin at a pumping station in Oak Creek, carrying water from Lake Michigan some 20 miles through the communities of Franklin, Muskego and New Berlin on its way to Waukesha for use as the city’s water supply. After use, the second pipeline will return treated water from the Clean Water Plant in Waukesha, that currently discharges into the Fox River, to an outfall point in Franklin that empties into the Root River, flowing ultimately back to Lake Michigan...
“The Great Water Alliance is a world-class program that will become a model for safe and sustainable drinking water programs,” said Nicole Spieles, Program Manager for Greeley and Hansen, the engineering firm overseeing the design and construction of the program. “The name, logo and website all convey the importance of this regional, cooperative program.
I see echoes there of the business support group for the proposed diversion that had been set up years ago, though the Great Lakes Compact through which the diversion had been applied for is an eight state, US and Canadian cooperative water management agreement not designed to give one state or community an economic advantage over others:: 
Coalition seeks to bring Lake Michigan water to Waukesha
The Sustainable Water Supply Coalition, an alliance of business organizations in southeastern Wisconsin, has been formed to advocate for water policy issues, including access to Lake Michigan water for the city of Waukesha.
“Our first order of business will be to help secure a sustainable source of water for the city of Waukesha,” the coalition announced today. 
Helping the city of Waukesha gain access to Lake Michigan water brought the coalition together, [Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce government relations director Steve] Baas said, because of the precedent it will set for other municipalities and counties...
“If you proceed from the premise that access to Great Lakes water is an economic advantage, it’s to our region’s advantage to draw who has access as broadly as possible. We want to be sure we are maximizing our regional advantage with the competitive advantage we were able to get in the (Great Lakes Water Compact).”
I've long believed that Waukesha's long-range objective, even though the final diversion approval trimmed Waukesha's ability to ship diverted water beyond its borders, is to create the kind of regional water authority already available in state legislation to compete with the City of Milwaukee's Water Utility, especially in growth areas south if I-94.

Some information about there is in this 2012 blog posting and in other posts accessible in the blog search box, upper left:

Regional Water Authority, Waukesha's Water "Plan C"?
A regional water authority directed by suburban interests (goodbye, Milwaukee, hello sprawl-fueled water), is clearly on the minds of Waukesha and Oak Creek: 
Note that item "F" in the Oak-Creek Waukesha water deal envisions the creation of a regional water authority:
F.    Regional Water Authority: Both Parties agree to engage in discussions related to the creation of a Regional Water Authority ("RWA"), the purpose of which would be to own and operate a treatment facility and the facility's related infrastructure. Such discussions would investigate the potential for the RWA to serve Oak Creek and its wholesale customers and the ownership and governing structure of the potential RWA. If such RWA purchases Oak Creek's existing Water treatment facility and the facility's related infrastructure, Oak Creek will receive fair and equitable monetary compensation for the sale. 
I've followed the regional water authority issue since 2007 when the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, SEWRPC, eventually recommended that Waukesha use Lake Michigan water.


Anonymous said...

My god, the Great Lakes Governors, including Vice President Pence, were all made to look like dumb asses by Wisconsin. Suckers, fools, one and all.

Nice, James.

Anonymous said...

I was told that Great Lakes water could only be used within the current limits of the City of Waukesha. That being said I guess they could locate large manufacturing and food processing within current city boundaries but I don't think they are allowed to sell water to other entities. I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

@anon 12:57 -

The boundaries for the service area were redrawn by the Regional Body of the Great Lakes members but did not limit the service area to the city of Waukesha. Portions of the city of Pewaukee and the Town of Waukesha were included too. The article James wrote refers to a much larger service area for communities within the basin being serviced by a line ending up outside the basin in Waukesha. The return flow could also include millions of gallons more from communities outside the basin not included in the device area drawn by the Compact Council. Racine is the proposed toilet of Waukesha County.