New report challenges need for Great Lakes diversion request

Petoskey News, March 9, 2016
Author: Mark Johnson

“This reinforces our already strong arguments against granting the diversion request,” said David Holtz, chairman of the Michigan Sierra Club Executive Committee, which signed a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder urging him to deny the request. “It is a pretty weak proposal.”

Waukesha is unable to use its water supply because of high levels of radium and has been ordered by state officials to address the issue.

According to the press release, the new report completed by GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., a consulting firm that provides geotechnical, environmental, water, ecological, and construction management services, found:

— Waukesha should invest in the operation and maintenance of current infrastructure and replace the wells to regain historic capacity, instead of allowing wells to fail to justify the diversion request. The release states the underperformance of the wells was in the original application, though it was included as supplemental material following the conclusion of the public comment period in Wisconsin last August.

— Waukesha should evaluate the treatment technology neighboring towns of Brookfield and Pewaukee utilize, which do not make similar radioactive waste or affect the amount of water needing to be pumped from the deep aquifer. This technology is adaptable and can be scaled to fit both small and large systems, the report indicates, including Waukesha's, and could be used on six different deep-water wells in combination with current treatment technology on one of the wells.

— The sustainability of deep aquifer use in the area should be evaluated by using Waukesha's actual historic water use to predict its future water use. Water use should continue to decline, based on historic water use data, even with population growth and planned conservation measures.

This new information is expected to be submitted to the Regional Body and Compact Council with formal comments.