Reader's View: Waukesha has options other than Great Lakes

Duluth News Tribune, March 17, 2016
Author: Gerald R. Robinson (Letter to the Editor)

On March 3, I attended the listening session in Duluth for the request of Waukesha, Wis., to divert and return water from Lake Michigan (“Request for lake water export gets skeptical reception,” March 4).

I am a citizen concerned with protecting the waters of the Great Lakes. There was much information handed out about this request for a diversion. It was very clear to me this request should be refused. The city of Waukesha has many options beyond taking water from the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Compact says Waukesha must return all water it withdraws from Lake Michigan, minus an allowance for consumptive use. Its plan, it seemed to me, did not meet federal compact requirements for return flow. The return discharge into the Fox River in the Mississippi River Basin would see 2 million to 3 million gallons per day, a 15 percent reduction. This likely would have significant impact on fisheries and other aquatic life.

Waukesha should instead upgrade its facilities, do a better job of water discharge and not pose risks for human health.

Industrial water sales in Waukesha have declined by more than 50 percent between 1999 and 2013. However, Waukesha is asking for almost twice the amount of water it currently uses. Requesting such a large volume of water for unsubstantiated industrial growth would seemingly violate the Great Lakes Compact.