Letter to the Editor: City could do more to conserve water

Letter to the Editor: City could do more to conserve water, Waukesha Freeman, August 25, 2015
Author: John Pehoski

To the editor: Waukesha’s application for Lake Michigan water, discussed in three Department of Natural Resources public hearings August 17 and 18, 2015, should not be approved. Of the many objections raised at the public hearing in Waukesha on Aug. 17, I focus on only one; specifically, the weaknesses in Waukesha’s conservation measures, and the DNR’s inadequate, less-thanthorough analysis of this area.

The DNR’s Draft Technical review pages 52-54 takes the Waukesha water Utility and SEWRPC’s analyses as fact, without considering where more stringent conservation measures and modifications to area development planning could dramatically reduce the daily water requirements for the city.

Page 53 states, “The Applicant (City of Waukesha) estimated that national and state plumbing code changes would yield the largest source of conservation and efficiency savings, predicting that these reductions would come primarily from ongoing installation and replacement of fixtures such as toilets and showerheads.” This is a short-sighted approach that does not require that users make any deliberate, conscious changes to their use of an increasingly threatened resource, but to instead rely on external, technological fixes.

Similarly, the review takes for granted whatever growth local government approves, regardless of its impact on increased water usage. Much more can be done in limiting large commercial and rental development.

As a citizen in the city of Waukesha who pays for the water I use by volume, I have an obvious financial interest in conservation. The only impact I have felt from Waukesha’s supposed conservation measures is the two-day-per week sprinkling restriction, and that is only because I have a vegetable garden and some summers there is not enough rain to keep my rain barrels full. Few water utility customers will be similarly affected. If the water utility imposed usage restrictions or rate increases that got more citizens’ and businesses’ attention, and increased awareness of this problem caused lifestyle changes, the 97104 gallons per capita per day use (pages 49-50) could be reduced dramatically. The water utility’s target is only a 20 percent reduction by 2020 (http://www.waukesha-water.com/conservation. html).

Of the many possible reasons this application may be denied by compact members, the shallow analysis provided for conservation measures is an obvious, large target.

John Pehoski