Debate over Waukesha water

WTMJ Radio620, February 4, 2016
Author: Belinda Babinec

Milwaukee, WI - Waukesha has been ordered to clean up its water quality by June of 2018. The city argues that diverting water from Lake Michigan is the only answer to meet the court order, and also meet expected demands for more water in the area. While Waukesha County straddles the Great Lakes basin, the City of Waukesha does not, and any diversion of water outside the Great Lakes basin must be reviewed for impact. Opponents of the plan say diverting water from the lake to Waukesha would have negative  environmental and economical impacts.  

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly says he's just trying to get clean, safe drinking water for his city, and says diverting water won't impact Lake Michigan. "It doesn't mean that there's a bad impact on the Great Lakes. Approving the application would be a benefit to the Great Lakes," he says. 

Racine Mayor John Dickert opposes the idea. He says the plan carries with it environmental impacts, and Great Lakes mayors are concerned that if Waukesha is allowed to divert water from Lake Michigan, this will set a precedent. "They're concerned about this straw coming into the Great Lakes, blowing up the compact and then allowing for other municipalities and communities to also stick a straw in. So you're cracking the egg, basically," Dickert says.