Compact Implementation Coalition
Press Release

Coalition Contends Waukesha Diversion Proposal Falls Short of Meeting Great Lakes Compact

A coalition of Wisconsin conservation and environmental organizations, contends that the City of Waukesha’s plan to divert an average of 10.1 million gallons daily from Lake Michigan does not meet the standards of the Compact

By - Nov 6th, 2013 09:14 am

A coalition of Wisconsin conservation and environmental organizations that works for effective implementation of the Great Lakes Compact, contends that the City of Waukesha’s plan to divert an average of 10.1 million gallons daily from Lake Michigan does not meet the standards of the Compact designed to protect the Great Lakes.

With public meetings starting Thursday, Nov. 7, the Coalition reminds all interested stakeholders of the important role they play in evaluating and questioning Waukesha’s application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“The Great Lakes Compact arose from the widely accepted notion that these waters are a world-class resource and need to be protected,” said George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, one of six organizations in the coalition. “The waters of Lake Michigan are critically important to all Wisconsin citizens including sportsmen and other recreational users.”

Ezra Meyer, water resources specialist for Clean Wisconsin, added, “While we believe that all people deserve a clean, sustainable water supply, the big question that remains is whether Waukesha has a reasonable local water supply option to meet its needs including a whole-hearted effort to conserve all the water it can.”

There are several key areas of concern for the coalition:

  • Waukesha has not made a compelling case that it is without a reasonable local water supply alternative.
  • The City seeks water for a greatly expanded service area that includes areas that have adequate supplies of water.
  • Although the City has a detailed water conservation plan, it has not been implemented to the level required by the Compact and Wisconsin law.
  • The City proposes to return diverted water back to Lake Michigan by discharging treated wastewater into the Root River, a waterway already impaired by pollution. Waukesha must demonstrate that its proposed discharge to the Root River would meet the provisions of state law and the Clean Water Act, or another return flow option must be selected.

The Coalition is asking for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ careful consideration of these deficiencies to ensure Waukesha’s application can be resolved in compliance with the Great Lakes Compact. If these issues cannot be resolved, the Coalition asks for the application to be rejected.

Cheryl Nenn, with Milwaukee Riverkeeper, said “Our Coalition has worked with Waukesha for years and offered constructive suggestions on their application again and again, yet the revised application fails to meet some of the basic requirements of the Great Lakes Compact.”

Public meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the following dates at the following locations:

  • Nov. 7, Carroll University Center for Graduate Studies auditorium, 2140 Davidson Road, Waukesha.
  • Nov. 13, Oak Creek Community Center, 8580 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek
  • Nov. 14, Racine Campus Conference Center, Great Lakes Room, Gateway Technical College, 1001 S. Main St., Racine.
  • Nov. 18, Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, rooms 109, 119 and 129, 1240 N. 10th St., Milwaukee.

The Great Lakes Compact was adopted by all eight U.S. Great Lakes states and ratified by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2008.  The Compact is a multi-state agreement which requires the Great Lakes states to protect and manage this world-class resource in a unified manner, adopt and implement strong water conservation measures, and prohibit diversions from the Great Lakes. Exceptions to the water diversion prohibition are allowed only under very limited circumstances and only if a community meets rigorous requirements.

The Compact Implementation Coalition is a coalition of Wisconsin conservation and environmental organizations that works for effective implementation of the Great Lakes Compact. The Coalition includes the following organizations:

Clean Wisconsin
Midwest Environmental Advocates
Milwaukee Riverkeeper
River Alliance of Wisconsin
Waukesha County Environmental Action League
Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

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