Waukesha’s Water Request Could Violate Civil Rights Law

Waukesha's Water Request Could Violate Civil Rights LawShepherd Express, September 29, 2015
Author: Lisa Kaiser

Is the City of Waukesha violating the Civil Rights Act by seeking federal funding to pipe in Lake Michigan water under the Great Lakes Compact?

Critics of Waukesha’s water request allege that any use of federal funds for the project would violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act because it would discriminate against Milwaukee’s racial or ethnic minorities. The law prohibits federal funds from paying for projects that have a discriminatory impact, intentional or not.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly and Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak went to Washington, D.C., in May 2014 to discuss federal funding for the project, which is estimated to cost around $200 million. According to a June BizTimes report, Waukesha would like to use “a combination of federal and state grants and loans and city borrowing” to pay for the project.

Waukesha wants to pump Lake Michigan water from Oak Creek through Franklin for its residents and eventually expand to Waukesha County’s suburban and rural areas, expanding its water service area 17 square miles. The Lake Michigan water would allow Waukesha’s communities to expand and prosper at the expense of Milwaukee’s minority residents, argue the NAACP Milwaukee Branch, the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, the Sierra Club Great Waters Group and attorney Dennis Grzezinski.

“All this would do is continue and even increase the drawing of better-off white folks to the outer suburbs, along with sprawl and the job migration and the hollowing out of jobs and economic activity from where folks can actually get to the jobs,” Grzezinski told the Shepherd.

Read the complete article here.