Compact Implementation Coalition
Press Release

Public Overwhelmingly Opposed To Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Diversion Proposal

99% of more than 11,200 comments indicate opposition or serious concern regarding City of Waukesha's proposed Great Lakes diversion

By - Apr 13th, 2016 08:55 am
Great Lakes watershed. Image: Great Lakes Commission

Great Lakes watershed. Image: Great Lakes Commission

MILWAUKEE — In a remarkable demonstration of public interest, more than 11,200 public comments were submitted to the Regional Body and Compact Council on the City of Waukesha, Wisconsin’s application to divert Great Lakes water. More than 99% of those comments explicitly opposed or expressed concern over Waukesha’s request.

Notably, of the 315 Tribes, First Nations, governments, elected leaders, organizations and associations that submitted or signed on to comments regarding Waukesha’s application, 256 explicitly opposed, expressed concern or had unanswered questions about the City of Waukesha’s application. In fact, in six of the eight Great Lakes states and both Canadian provinces, not a single Tribe, First Nation, Government, elected leader, organization or association submitted or signed on to a comment explicitly supporting Waukesha’s application as written.

“Anyone paying attention to the polarized nature of today’s political climate knows this level of agreement across political divides and international boundaries is nothing short of astounding,” says Jodi Habush Sinykin of Midwest Environmental Advocates. “The extent of public concern and outcry shown, speaks to how important this first-of-its-kind regional decision will be seen by citizens throughout the Great Lakes region.”

With the public comment period having closed on March 14, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin Regional Body and Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin Compact Council – composed of the eight Great Lakes governors and two Canadian premiers – will meet later this month to reach a decision on the fate of this diversion application. Only the eight Great Lakes governors are allowed to vote, but a significant level of deference will be given to any objection from the Canadian premiers. While states may abstain from voting, their silence is considered a yes vote. Only one no vote is required to deny the application. Or, the application may be approved, or it may be approved with conditions attached.

“The public has definitely spoken on this topic, and we feel strongly those voices need to be heard,” says Jennifer Bolger Breceda of Milwaukee Riverkeeper. “We hope this outpouring signals to the Regional Body and Compact Council that they need to take these many, many concerns into consideration while reviewing this flawed proposal and deny Waukesha’s diversion request.”

For comprehensive information about the Great Lakes Compact and Waukesha’s application to divert water, visit

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

Recent Press Releases by Compact Implementation Coalition

Racine Diversion Request Raises Serious Questions; Compact Coalition Urges Regional Review

The purpose of the diversion is to provide Great Lakes water to Foxconn Technology Group, a private, large multinational electronics manufacturer, for its first U.S. manufacturing plant.

Great Lakes Leaders Approve Waukesha Water Diversion

Wisconsin environmental groups' concerns remain; modified diversion plan will require vigilance

Groups Ask Wisconsin to Clarify its Authority to Regulate a Waukesha Diversion

An opinion by the Wisconsin Attorney General casts doubt on the state’s authority to manage, regulate, and enforce conditions the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact Council may require when approving a diversion.

6 thoughts on “Public Overwhelmingly Opposed To Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Diversion Proposal”

  1. Thomas says:

    I have been told that some words in Latin on the Milwaukee County Courthouse can be translated as “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” The voice of the people against the diversion of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha may not be as authoritative at the Latin inscription, but the 99% who oppose the diversion have spoken with astonishing conviction.

  2. Rick says:

    Not a well-written article. Who is proposing what? Why do they want it? How and when is it to happen? What were the main objections?

  3. Marc Clements says:

    That’s as poorly written as I’ve ever seen. Thanks for no content.

  4. Gary says:

    Search the site for collection of related articles.
    In any case, Waukesha’s history speaks for itself: when a city like Waukesha destroyed natures gift of natural springs that were developed into a nationally renowned industry of spas and related attractions in the 19th C. why would anyone assume they care about stewardship of water that isn’t inherently theirs in the 21st C.?

  5. AG says:

    Gary, you’re blaming the residents of Waukesha for decisions made 150 years ago? If that is the case, then we in Milwaukee shouldn’t get all the federal money to clean our water ways that we destroyed during the same time period. But since most people are logical and realize now what was done and actually care, we did(are) get(ting) the money.

  6. Thomas says:

    Past abuses of waterways are not as important in this issue as future considerations. Yes, the citizens of Milwaukee did great harm to the Milwaukee River in the past, but that river is being restored. There were only 2 species of fish in the Milwaukee River below North Avenue before the North Avenue Dam was demolished. There are now more than 30 species of fish there.

    A larger potential future concern involves diversion of Great Lakes water to areas outside of the Great Lakes watershed. Before the Great Lakes Compact was signed, former Texas Congressman Tom Delay bragged that he had plans to steal water from the Great Lakes for use in Texas. I haven’t heard such talk since the Compact was signed, requiring unanimity among 8 governors and the input of 2 Canadian Provincial Premieres before water would be allowed to be diverted from the Great Lakes.

    I was heartened by the article that recorded a 99% disapproval in public comment on the proposed Waukesha diversion because I think it showed that the majority of people who have given this subject sufficient thought have considered the future.

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