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After 3 years, the City of Waukesha has finally submitted its revised Great Lakes diversion application proposing to divert an average of 10 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan to Waukesha.
Why is there so much attention being paid to Waukesha's proposed Great Lakes diversion?
Waukesha is the first test case of the Great Lakes Compact, which was established to ensure that Great Lakes water stays in the Great Lakes. And thus, Waukesha's application will set a precedent for all future water diversions out of the Great Lakes, not only for Wisconsin but for the entire Great Lakes Region.
Position of the Compact Implementation Coalition
The Compact Implementation Coalition, comprised of conservation and environmental organizations, works for effective implementation of the Great Lakes Compact in Wisconsin. Our Coalition is not for or against diversions of water from the Great Lakes basin. Our goal is to protect the integrity of the Compact, which prohibits diversions except under limited circumstances and only as a last resort; protects and manages this magnificent resource in a unified manner; and requires the adoption and implementation of strong water conservation measures. After years of attempting to work with the City of Waukesha on evaluating water supply options for the City, and offering constructive suggestions for its diversion application, the revised application does not meet several of the basic requirements of the Great Lakes Compact. Examples of some major deficiencies of the revised application are:
In reviewing the City of Waukesha’s application, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources should address these and other deficiencies in the City of Waukesha’s application in a straightforward manner. The Department should ensure that these issues are fully resolved and in compliance with the Great Lakes Compact, or if not, it should not approve this application.
Given huge changes in the diversion application, City of Waukesha Water Utility held public information meetings in Waukesha, Racine, Oak Creek and Milwaukee in November 2013 to provide an overview of the revised application and answer questions. Meetings did not, however, allow for public input.
WDNR is currently working on the technical review of the application as well as an Environmental Impact Statement. WDNR will also hold hearings after the draft documents are done, most likely in early 2014.