Waukesha floats 1st test of Great Lakes compact: Wisconsin case could set precedent for Ohio

The Toledo Blade, March 7, 2016
Author: Tom Henry

All eyes on the highly contentious fight over Great Lakes water are on a city of 71,000 people that’s about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, but doesn’t like being called one of its suburbs.

Waukesha, Wis., is the county seat of Waukesha County, which borders Milwaukee County, and it badly needs water. 

Its fight to be allowed to draw water from Lake Michigan could set a precedent for Ohio communities that may one day need to make similar requests.

Being part of a county that straddles the natural Great Lakes water basin, Waukesha, which now relies on tainted wells, could become eligible to draw water from Lake Michigan and its tributaries even though it lies just outside the Lake Michigan watershed.

Under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, which is often called the Great Lakes compact, communities in so-called “straddling counties” can siphon water from the Great Lakes. 

But that can happen only if each of the governors of states in the compact agree.