Public Sharply Divided Over Waukesha Proposal to Divert Lake Michigan Water

WUWM, February 19, 2016
Author: Susan Bence

Part of the debate over Waukesha’s application hinges on the fact that the Great lakes Compact itself does not include Wisconsin’s water service supply regulation.

The Mayor of Racine, John Dickert is concerned about Waukesha’s planned return flow. Waukesha wants its effluent to travel via the Root River on its way back to Lake Michigan.

“We do not want what the DNR will allow to come down the stream – additional pharmaceuticals, chloride, fluoride, microbeads, you name it. While that may be acceptable when it comes to discharges, I will be frank with you, we don’t want it. And we don’t want it because that not only runs through this heartland of our city where all of these activities are going out, but it empties out into the lakefront next to my North Beach, which is an award-winning beach,” Dickert says.

A number of people shared concern about water conservation.

In addition to “proving” that Lake Michigan is the only reasonable water supply option for Waukesha, it must implement an aggressive conservation program.

Karen Hobbs with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Chicago office said Waukesha isn’t doing enough.

“The measures they’ve had the greatest success with have been mandatory measures that were introduced in 2006 and 2007. But no mandatory measures have been introduced since that time, despite clear evidence to their effectiveness. Instead Waukesha has largely relied on voluntary measures and education. And while both of those are important to be sure, they’re not signs of a robust and dynamic plan,” Hobbs says.