Waukesha Diversion Proposal Demands Scrutiny
As Complete Details Emerge, Interested Parties Must Evaluate Whether It Meets Wisconsin and Great Lakes Compact Requirements
The Compact Implementation Coalition, a coalition of Wisconsin conservation and environmental organizations that works toward effective implementation of the Great Lakes Compact, today reminds Wisconsinites and others around the Great Lakes Basin of the vital stakeholder role they play in evaluating the City of Waukesha’s revised application to divert water from Lake Michigan.
Ezra Meyer, water resources specialist at Clean Wisconsin, said: “What’s critically important is that all people, communities, businesses, and others with a stake in the future of the Great Lakes participate actively in this process from here on out. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has agreed to provide another opportunity for public information and public input on this major decision, by requiring Waukesha to hold public forums on the revised application and by accepting written comments from stakeholders.”
Earlier this summer, the Compact Implementation Coalition encouraged the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to require public forums on Waukesha’s revised application, given its significant changes since it last went public, in 2011. The Department agreed, and Waukesha will soon hold public forums in key geographies potentially affected by the proposed diversion and return of treated water back to the lake. The Compact Implementation Coalition will encourage the members of our diverse collection of organizations and all concerned members of the public, in Wisconsin and around the Great Lakes Basin, to participate in those forums and to submit written comments on the application to the Department of Natural Resources. The Department has agreed to accept written comments until two weeks after the final public forum.
Key areas of the Waukesha diversion application on which the Compact Implementation Coalition will focus its analysis in the coming weeks relate to requirements in the Great Lakes Compact and Wisconsin law. They include:
· Have all required water conservation and efficiency measures been implemented?
· Are the expanded service area and the increased amount of water requested reasonable and justified?
· Have all reasonable local alternatives for water supply been thoroughly considered and ruled out based on sound science and engineering principles?
· Can all of the diverted water be returned to the Great Lakes Basin without environmental impact to the lake or tributary rivers?
· Is the mixing of Mississippi Basin water minimized in the return flow of treated wastewater to Lake Michigan?
“Waukesha has to make a compelling case on the legal and scientific merits that they have no reasonable water supply alternatives other than a diversion, including full implementation of required water conservation and efficiency measures” said Jodi Habush Sinykin, of counsel to Midwest Environmental Advocates, a non-profit environmental law center in Madison. “To-date, they have not made a convincing argument on that score.”
George Meyer, executive director of Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, added “The handling of Waukesha’s application could set a precedent for future water diversion requests all around the Great Lakes Basin. We have to get this process right. The regular involvement of the public in the process will help to ensure that we do.”
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 if a community meets rigorous requirements.
The Compact Implementation Coalition is a coalition of Wisconsin conservation and environmental organizations that works toward effective implementation of the Great Lakes Compact. The Coalition includes the following organizations:
Midwest Environmental Advocates
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