Appeal on Waukesha Diversion denied

Great Lakes Compact Council

SPRING BAY—An appeal of the Waukesha, Wisconsin water diversion from Lake Michigan has been denied. The Great Lakes Compact Council (made up of representatives from all eight Great Lakes states) unanimously voted earlier this month not to reopen discussion to modify the approval it gave the diversion last year. As has been reported previously, under the plan Waukesha will be able to divert an average of 8.2 billion gallons of Lake Michigan water per day and return treated wastewater to the lake via the Root River.

“You’re kidding me,” stated Mike Wilton, of Algonquin Eco Watch, a resident of Spring Bay late last week to the news. “The first thing I can say is that the treated water they (Waukesha) will be returning to Lake Michigan will not be as pure as (the water) they originally received.”

“The second thing is that they won’t be returning as much water as they are going to be drawing out of the lake (Lake Michigan); I can guarantee it will be less and it will put more pressure on the lake and all of the Great Lakes in time,” said Mr. Wilton. “The other thing they are doing by taking this water is setting a precedent for other communities all over the Great Lakes looking at the same kind of water diversion in the future—there was a legal contract in place that this type of thing would not take place.”

Mr. Wilton explained “the biggest reason they (Waukesha) want to withdraw water is because they have an aquifer which is polluted. They are not treating the problem at the source, so basically they are  putting it off to future generations to fix. They already polluted their own water system and have no intentions of cleaning it up.”

Opponents of the diversion have indicated that legal action may be their next step. An attorney for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which brought forward the appeal, said the group will determine next steps after reviewing the council’s written decision, the Milwaukee Journal Times reported in its April 21, 2017 edition. Attorney Jill Hutchison said in a statement that the Cities Initiative is exploring all options to ensure that the compact’s protections are preserved, including potentially seeking judicial review.