In Waukesha's bid to tap Great Lakes, an expert separates wheat from chaff

In Waukesha's bid to tap Great Lakes, an expert separates wheat from chaff - MinnPost, December 16, 2016
Author: Ron Meador

First of two parts.

At long last the precedent-setting bid by Waukesha, Wisconsin, to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan is formally in line for approval by all – or rejection by at least one – of the governors whose eight states make up the Great Lakes Compact [PDF], including Minnesota’s Mark Dayton.

This is a very big deal and the outcome couldn’t be more in doubt, according to Peter Annin, who you could fairly say wrote the book on conflicts over our continent’s most precious freshwater resource: “The Great Lakes Water Wars,” published in 2006.

I reached Annin, a former Newsweek correspondent, at his new office at Northland College, where he is teaching and also working on a second edition of“Water Wars” – necessarily a complete rewrite, he said, in order to address the work of the compact since its inception in 2008, and especially “the super-historical moment in Great Lakes water management” that the Waukesha decision will occasion in the next six months.

He declined on journalistic grounds to judge the relative merits of Waukesha’s case or the counterclaims of its environmentally minded challengers, or to predict which way the decision will go; Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, is on record in favor of approval but the governors of Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania have been mum.

(After I wondered aloud whether a governor could abstain, Annin found out that this is indeed possible – which means that approval requires not eight ayes, as is often reported, but the unanimous support of those voting.)

Four biggest issues

So we talked at length on Monday afternoon about what’s at stake for Waukesha and for the Great Lakes if this diversion bid is granted, and about his view that approval will require the compact governors to reach accord on four especially thorny points out of the many at issue. 

Read the complete article here.