Minnesota lawmakers hear a critique of Waukesha's bid for Great Lakes water

MinnPost, February 5, 2016
Author: Ron Meador

Significant political opposition appears to be building in the Great Lakes basin as a precedent-setting request by Waukesha, Wisconsin, to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan heads toward resolution in the next several months.

That’s the main message I took from an informal meeting of Minnesota legislators on Wednesday afternoon.

The session was organized by Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, who has been deeply involved with the eight-state Great Lakes Compact, created in 2008 to bar diversions of Great Lakes water outside the basin except in exceptional circumstances. An exception requires unamimous approval from the governors of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

Rest wrote the legislation by which Minnesota became the state to join the compact, and is also a past chair of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, which is now on record as finding that Waukesha’s circumstances aren’t yet sufficiently exceptional to justify approving its request. So is an association of mayors of Great Lakes cities called the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.