Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Final OK for Waukesha water diversion will whet West's thirst

Western US states now baking in the global warming crisis brought on by science-and-climate change denial could cite Wednesday's anti-climatic announcement - 


 - should they ever move to unwind a Great Lake management agreement's weakening diversion restrictions for permission to pipe in water, too, and say:

* Hey, Wisconsin, you gave Waukesha a diversion which rewarded unrestrained annexations as documented in a 2005 report by Midwest Environmental Advocates' attorneys and based on Waukesha records:

Data provided from the City of Waukesha Department of Community Development’s Planning Division demonstrates that the City, over the past 20 years, has increased in size from 15.5 square miles to 23.6 square miles, reflecting a 52% expansion....

Moreover, city planners concede that annexations of property bordering the city occur on a regular basis, as developers continue to buy up farmland and then petition the city for annexation. In the last five years alone, over 1,300 total acres have been annexed by the City of Waukesha, with over 4,413 total acres annexed in the past 15 years. 

* And you're willing to spend another billion dollars of  public money to further reward that sprawl with an urban interstate highway widening at the expense of clean air and environmental justice. 

The freeway project borders homes in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Milwaukee, which would be affected by the expansion.

* And you further bent Great Lakes water diversion legal requirements to fuel what has become phantom, politically-inspired non-residential development by Foxconn, a wealthy multi-national corporation, on prime agricultural land in Racine County. 

As Midwest Environmental Advocates argued: 

The Racine diversion violates the Compact and Wisconsin’s implementing legislation because the water diverted outside of the basin will not serve “largely residential customers.”  
In fact, none of the water diverted outside of the basin will go to residential customers. As a result, the Racine diversion does not meet the public water supply purposes requirement in the straddling community exception... 

Thus, DNR’s approval of the Racine diversion establishes a misguided and dangerous precedent with far-reaching implications for the Great Lakes region. This precedent opens the door to diversions throughout the Great Lakes basin—to any customer and for any purpose—as long as the in-basin community supplying and receiving back the returned water does so through a public water system.  

'So rules, shmooles, Wisconsin, we (pick a city, county, state, purpose or business) deserve our share, too.'

Lake Michigan gale
Lake Michigan along the Milwaukee shoreline, 2019. James Rowen photo.

And don't think the cross-country diversion idea recently floated again can't happen - or is not feasible - (they are piping oil from Alberta, Canada, Wyoming and Colorado to Wisconsin and the Gulf of Mexico) - especially as the parched UW west dries out and catches fire.

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