Michigan Holds Hearing On Waukesha Plan To Divert Great Lakes Water

Wisconsin Public Radio, February 11, 2016
Author: Chuck Quirmback

The state of Michigan held a hearing Tuesday as part of a review of Waukesha's plan to get drinking water from Lake Michigan Tuesday.

A number of environmentalists spoke out against the plan. Laura Rubin of the Huron River Watershed Council said that Waukesha doesn't need lake water, and should instead keep using local groundwater.

"It can continue to treat from the deep sandstone and shallow aquifers, with reverse osmosis and blending, and meet its additional needs with additional treatment," she said.

Seven other environmental activists from Michigan also testified against the plan.

Three people — all from Wisconsin — spoke in favor of diversion, including Dan Duchniak of the Waukesha Water Utility.

"Reverse osmosis treatment wastes 10 to 20 percent of the water supply, which would require greater pumping from the aquifer, causing significant harm to the environment from further drawdowns," he said.

At the evening session of Tuesday's hearing,  Duchniak and Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly testified again in favor of diversion, while two other Michigan environmentalists spoke against the proposal.

Another environmental activist said testimony from Waukesha officials had given him something to think about, and that he would make comments later.

A group of Great Lakes governors also plans to hold a hearing on the plan in Waukesha next week.