Monday, October 30, 2017

Waukesha/Milwaukee make water deal WI DNR botched

The deal announced today gives the City of Waukesha a supply of diverted Lake Michigan water through the Milwaukee Water Works at a lower cost to Waukesha water users than what an Oak Creek connection would have carried, while bringing Milwaukee a revenue stream and some Waukesha-provided lead abatement funding.

The die was cast more than a decade ago when the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission began its recommendations for eventual Lake Michigan diversions, and the Great Lakes governors approved an exemption for out-of-basin diversions which was aimed to make Waukesha eligible to apply for, and be granted a diversion.

The deal follows geographical restrictions which Milwaukee had urged to limit Waukesha's plan to redistribute some diverted Great Lakes water to other Waukesha-area communities - - a sprawl-inducing plan endorsed by then-DNR Secretary and development-friendly Cathy Stepp - -  but those Milwaukee-endorsed restrictions on sprawl-inducing water export were eventually validated by the governing organization of Great Lakes states which sets the rules on who may divert water and why:

It was clear since 2010 that the expanded service territory and its sprawl opportunities were going to be problems once the application made its way to the other states...
Contrast the now-shrinking proposed service territory to what was declared as an iron-clad, non-negotiable extended service territory laid out several years ago by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary and chamber of commerce water-carrier and mouthpiece Cathy Stepp when she said that any potential water supplier of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha was required by state law to supply the entire expanded service territory.
So a water deal which suits Milwaukee, Waukesha and the other Great Lakes states - - and which reduced the amount of the diversion while limiting sprawl to the benefit of the region - -  finally moves forward after years of foolish, costly and self-inflicted delay predicted in 2010: 
The weakest link in the application - - and what will raise questions all the way from the Town of Waukesha to the City of Milwaukee, and with reviewers and regulators in all the eight Great Lakes states, is Waukesha's plan to send Lake Michigan water into parts of Pewaukee, Genesee and the Town of Waukesha.
Expanding the current service territory land mass by 80%.
That expansion - - mapped out and green-lighted by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission for the Waukesha application administatively, without public review - - plays some role in Waukesha's request for up to 18.5 million gallons of Lake Michigan water daily.
Also for the record: I quoted Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett making this proposal to Waukesha in 2012 - - and it's the basis on which they made a deal today: 
The City of Milwaukee continues to be interested in negotiating the sale of water to the City of Waukesha’s current water service area. The Milwaukee Water Works could provide your residents with a healthy and sustainable supply of drinking water at a rate that our competitors cannot even come close to matching
Taking action to revise the proposed service area now is likely to relieve you from the expense and time spent on challenges to your diversion request down the road. For the sake of your ratepayers and your timeline, I ask that you reconsider your position on the service area so that we can commence negotiations to serve Waukesha city residents with high quality water at the lowest possible cost.


Anonymous said...

Years and years of work by consultants and DNR down the tubes to a more reasonable solution. The stupid is unbelievable. Having seen it from the inside I can only shake my head.

Steve Edlund, Waukesha said...

A very, very important note on this.

Republicans and Scott Walker followed up the decision of the Governors to limit the water supply service area with 2017 Wisconsin Act 38.

This bill allows Waukesha to keep the expanded map for sewer for all the developers, land investors, and realtors. I have verified this with Attorney and Waukesha lobbyist, Bill McClenahan of Martin Schriber and Associates, a lobbyist for the Bill.

Land investors, developers, real estate agents all lost money without Lake Michigan water and this was the fix for Walker's base.

Now they can build and use Waukesha's shallow aquifer as the supply. Waukesha's shallow aquifer water will be sent to the Waukesha waste water treatment plant. That water will be commingled with Lake Michigan water and anything above the 100% return flow will be sent down the Fox River, which goes to the Mississippi and then to the Gulf of Mexico.

This plan would never, ever, been approved by the Great Lake Compact Council.

Scott Walker has become the first Governor to sign state legislation to intentionally break the Great Lakes Compact.