Waukesha's water diversion request should be rewritten

Waukesha's water diversion request should be rewritten, Racine Journal Times, September 2, 2015
Author: Melissa Warner

I am against Waukesha's water diversion request as currently written for three reasons.

First, the amount requested in excessive. The Compact (Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basic Water Resources Compact) allows an "amount to meet immediate needs" and refers to the "existing systems as of the effective date of this compact" (2008). This request is for future needs and for boundaries far beyond the water service area of 2008.

Second, there are other alternatives. Just because lake water is cheaper and more convenient does not mean it passes the Compact standard of "only when no reasonable alternative exists." According to a paper in Water World, reverse osmosis can remove up to 98 percent of the radium. (Michael Havener, www.waterworld.com.)

Third, returning the treated wastewater through the Root River does not "protect the integrity of the basin." The daily volume fluctuations will erode the riverbed and undercut the banks, possibly affecting the stability of road and bridge foundations. It will resuspend bottom sediments and nutrients and carry them into the lake, reducing water quality. That in turn will affect fish health and contribute to the growth of harmful algae. We have seen the results of harmful algal blooms in local lakes and in Lake Erie last summer. A direct return, while more expensive, will avoid these problems.

The Diversion Request should be rewritten with an amount of water commensurate with its boundaries in 2008 and with a return flow route direct to the lake.

Melissa H. Warner