Compact Implementation Coalition
Press Release

Waukesha’s Proposed Water Diversion is Vastly Different from Its 2011 Application

The Public Deserves Comprehensible Document, New Hearings and Time to Review

By - Jul 1st, 2013 04:46 pm

MILWAUKEE, WI – A Coalition of conservation organizations is calling on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to request that the City of Waukesha complete a revised and comprehensible application for a potential diversion of water from Lake Michigan, and further calling on the DNR to hold public hearings on the revised application. Waukesha submitted its application to the DNR in 2011, but has made significant and consequential revisions that are difficult to track and which have not been subject to public hearings.

“We need the City to provide a completely revised diversion application with ample time for public comment before the DNR begins its formal review,” said Steve Schmuki, president of the Waukesha County Environmental Action League, on behalf of the Coalition.

On Monday, the Compact Implementation Coalition sent a letter to the DNR and City officials requesting a revised application and public comment process. Reasons for the Coalition’s request include:

  • Major changes to the original application have been made since 2011. For example the water supplier has now changed from the City of Milwaukee to the City of Oak Creek, changing the water supply route; the waste water discharge point and return flow routes have changed from Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa to the Root River; water use and demand forecasts have been declining; and revisions have also been made to the water conservation plans and water supply service area;
  • The City of Waukesha has not assembled all of the new and relevant original information into one cohesive document for DNR or the public to review the modifications and consider the costs and impacts.

George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, added: “We need to respect our agreements and our role in the Great Lakes Compact. But without a complete picture of Waukesha’s unique proposal, the public won’t have a chance to weigh in on the first substantive test of the Compact. There is too much at stake to leave the public and key stakeholders in the dark on such a major decision.”

The City’s application will set a precedent for future water diversion requests all around the Great Lakes Basin.

The Great Lakes Compact was adopted by all eight Great Lakes states and ratified by US 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:

Clean Wisconsin

Midwest Environmental Advocates

Milwaukee Riverkeeper

River Alliance of Wisconsin

Waukesha County Environmental Action League

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

Recent Press Releases by Compact Implementation Coalition

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.

Groups React to Recommendation on Precedent-Setting Great Lakes Water Diversion Request

The Declaration of Findings include conditions added by the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers that will modify the diversion request.