So, did Waukesha get a glimpse of things to come? In a flurry of activity recently, we saw:
1. The Milwaukee County Board voted 13-3 on April 22 to oppose the Waukesha’s water plan.
Ostensibly the vote was to protect the county’s streams from pollution and erosion, but the comments from board members seems to indicate a different motivation, the kind you normally see from children.
“You have been sidestepped on this process,” said one. “We’ve been treated purely as an afterthought,” said another.
“They do not care about the concerns of Milwaukee County,” replied another.
“Why should I trust them?”
“They get the water and we get – I don’t want to say it – we get everything else,” intoned another.
Waukesha’s water utility manager, Dan Duchniak disagreed with the assessment, claiming that the water Waukesha puts into the creeks will be cleaner than the water flowing there now.
To be fair, the County Board is excluded from the process of approving or disapproving Waukesha’s request. The DNR and the Great Lakes states are the ones who will sign off on the request.
Racine’s representative Cory Mason is on record opposing dumping of Waukesha waste water in the Root River. (A tip of the conservative ball cap to James Rowen who recently posted on how new phosphorus rules could add to any plan’s costs.
2. Milwaukee aldermen and Waukesha’s new mayor, Jeff Scrima, traded letters about requirements for receiving Milwaukee water.
Scrima contended during the recent campaign that if Waukesha didn’t keep its options open it would lose some of its sovereignty to Milwaukee. He alleged that somehow, Milwaukee will use Waukesha’s needs for water to advance some dastardly purpose.
The water saga continues and will stretch well into the foreseeable future.
If you’ve been living in a cave the last few years, Waukesha needs water because of elevated levels of radium. Lake Michigan seems to have a lot of water and Waukesha would like to get some, but the Great Lakes Compact requires returning the water to Lake Michigan.
Waukesha’s plan, sent to the DNR earlier this month, is to return the water to Underwood Creek where it would flow to the Menomonee River and back to Lake Michigan.
Waukesha is somewhat under the gun, facing a 2018 deadline for cleaning up there water.
People talk regional cooperation but the playing out is a little more difficult. The suburbs think Milwaukee wants their tax dollars. Milwaukee thinks the suburbs are using their infrastructure without paying for it.
Obviously, more work needs to be done. Like maybe growing up and behaving like adults.
3. Two neighboring local governments have expressed concern about the city’s plan to drill shallow wells as a backup measure. The major concern here seems to be the potential for privately owned wells going dry as Waukesha sucks water from the planned area.
The road is long, the opposition varied and the clock is ticking.
And if both options go down in flames, what’s left?
There’s a lesson for communities everywhere—don’t outgrow your water supply.
Yeah, like they will pay attention.