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Water Diversion Controversy Stifles Milwaukee Suburb's Growth Plans

The city of Waukesha asked for more water than the Great Lakes Compact would allow. Commenters remind the city of Waukesha that water for growth was never the goal of the Great Lakes Compact.
May 6, 2016, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Don Behm of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel provides the big news about a decision by Great Lakes officials to cut a water diversion request intended to help the city of Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee, continue to grow. According to Behm, Waukesha's proposal requested an average of 10.1 million gallons a day. Great Lakes official trimmed that proposal to 8.2 million gallons a day by removing "portions of three neighboring communities from a future water service area to receive lake water," according to Behm.

An article by Angie Schmitt offers helpful perspective on the context and larger implications of the decision. "Governors of the states surrounding the Great Lakes are considering a water policy case with big implications for land development throughout the Midwest," writes Schmitt, who also provides this background:

Waukesha, Wisconsin, a sprawling suburban area outside Milwaukee, has exhausted its water resources. Rather than cooperate with the city of Milwaukee to secure water, Waukesha spent years preparing an application to divert water from Lake Michigan. Waukesha needs permission from the states and provinces that signed the Great Lakes Compact, a 2008 agreement to protect the world’s largest freshwater source from being pillaged.

In addition to providing that concise description of the issue, Schmitt's article shares the commentary provided by James Rowen of the Political Environment, who has been following the request since it was first proposed. According to Rowen, a recent decision by Great Lakes officials to cut the water diversion request should have been anticipated years ago.

Prior to the regional group's decision, the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources had approved the proposed change of service area.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, April 22, 2016 in Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel
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