Waukesha Water Diversion Approved

The eight Great Lakes governors gave unanimous approval June 21 to Waukesha’s proposal to divert 8.2 million gallons of Lake Michigan water daily.

A statement from the Wisconsin Compact Implementation Coalition – a collective of Wisconsin conservation groups opposed to the diversion – maintains that Waukesha’s proposal is flawed.

“While we acknowledge that Waukesha must address the radium in its drinking water, we maintain Waukesha can safely meet its community’s drinking water needs now and well into the future without a diversion from the Great Lakes,” the statement said.

“We will continue to watchdog both the City of Waukesha and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as they implement the approved diversion request, to ensure all conditions placed on the approval by the Compact Council are carried out in keeping with the spirit and the letter of the Great Lakes Compact.”

Meeting at the University of Illinois-Chicago, representatives of the eight Great Lakes states governors voted 8-0 for the plan.

Two last-minute watchdog amendments were added to the plan. Minnesota wanted the plan to reflect that any Great Lakes state can take action against Waukesha if it does not abide by the plan, and Michigan requested that the Waukesha water utility be open to audit with only 30-day notice.

Waukesha is under court order to comply with drinking water standards for radium by June 2018.

This was the first major test for the Great Lakes Compact, which was enacted in 2008 to have control of water diversion from the Great Lakes.