Jan 19, 2017

Wrangling Water in Waukesha

Waukesha, Wisconsin, water, wastewater, treatment, Lake Michigan, pipe

In Waukesha, Wis., a feud is brewing between the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLC), a group of U.S. and Canadian mayors, and the Great Lakes Compact Council (GLCC), which represents states surrounding the Great Lakes.

GLSLC has asked for a rehearing on the GLCC’s June 2016 decision and plan to divert water from Lake Michigan to Waukesha for drinking water. Waukesha would become the first community to utilize The Great Lakes Compact, an agreement approved in 2008 allowing municipalities along the Great Lakes basin to apply for water from the Great Lakes.

Pare of the conflict derives from Racine Mayor John Dickert’s opposition to the Waukesha’s plan to return treated wastewater to the lake via Root River, which meanders through Racine, Wis. For those of us more familiar with wastewater treatment processes (like those who read our sister publication Water & Wastes Digest), that concern seems somewhat hollow. Treated wastewater has to meet high standards before it can be reintroduced into waterways. Dickert has gone so far as to say a federal lawsuit is possible.

The other matter of concern with the plan stems from the processes and procedures used to set it all into motion. While I do not believe water is sparse for Waukesha, there is no denying water scarcity is becoming an important aspect in developing the future of communities. Utilizing the Great Lakes for drinking water could be a great first step in finding a solution before there is a major problem.

What do you think about the conflict surrounding Waukesha and its water? Should Waukesha be able to enact its plan as it was approved last June, or should it be amended? Let us know at wqpeditor@sgcmail.com.

Related: Op-ed Details Waukesha, Wis., Water Proposal