Great Lakes option is best course for Waukesha

    On Tuesday, July 27, at 7:45 p.m., the Waukesha Common Council has scheduled a special meeting to formulate its response to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regarding the city’s stalled application for Great Lakes water.
    Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce believes it is important to briefly review several facts central to the Chamber’s ongoing support of the City of Waukesha’s pursuit of Great Lakes water.

    When did the Chamber first support the city’s effort to pursue Great Lakes Water?
    In 2007, the Chamber adopted a resolution supporting the Great Lakes Compact, and in-turn the City of Waukesha’s effort to secure Great Lakes water as a sustainable and cost-effective means for addressing the city’s critical water needs. The resolution was reviewed and approved by the Chamber’s advocacy committee, executive committee and board of directors. The Chamber also hosted a well-attended public meeting in which proponents and opponents of the plan were given the opportunity to debate the issue and share their views.

    When does the city have to be radium compliant?
    The city must be radium compliant by 2018-as ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and reaffirmed by the courts. While this may seem a distant date, the reality is many steps still need to be taken before a Lake Michigan water source can be made available to Waukesha residents and businesses – including approvals from the other Great Lakes states, negotiations with a provider such as Milwaukee, Oak Creek or Racine, and the planning and building of the new water system itself. The Chamber believes it is critical to move forward with the application now if the EPA’s 2018 deadline is to be met.

    What happens if the city isn’t radium compliant by 2018?
    If the city isn’t radium compliant by 2018, it faces fines of up to $80,000 per day until it achieves compliance. Extension of the 2018 deadline is highly unlikely, as previous extensions have been given and already considered by the courts. Failure to meet the deadline will result in costly EPA enforcement action against the City of Waukesha.

    How extensively has the water issue been examined?
    Addressing the city’s water needs has involved countless hours and resources, both internal and external.  Specifically:

    Waukesha Water Utility:
    * Held 41 open, public meetings.
    * Contracted with six different engineering firms to analyze the water issue, including the various options from a sustainability and cost perspective.
    * Results: A 2,000-page analysis, from which the city’s application for Great Lakes water was derived.

    SEWRPC (Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission):
    Leading the effort to develop a regional water plan, SEWRPC organized a regional advisory committee of 32 experts, which met 21 times to discuss water supply. Experts included environmentalists, planners, water experts, scientists, as well as leaders in the academic community.

    Waukesha City Council:
    Held numerous pubic information sessions and thoroughly reviewed the data prepared by the Waukesha Water Utility and SEWRPC.
    After years of study and public input, the Council ultimately concluded the Lake Michigan water was the only cost-effective and sustainable source of water for the city and voted 14-1 this past April to advance the application.

    At Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council is expected to revisit a multi-supply option that was previously reviewed and dismissed. The Chamber encourages the Waukesha business community to get all the facts and weigh this option (and others) according to the following criteria:
    Does it provide a long term, environmentally friendly, sustainable (with equal usage and return) water supply for the city? 
    Does it provide the greatest value for the city, with both capital and operating costs providing the least impact on water bills?

    Action item:
    The Chamber will be monitoring upcoming Council action and attending Tuesday’s meeting in order to reaffirm its support for the city’s application seeking Great Lakes water.  A statement will be read.
    The Chamber encourages its members to attend Tuesday’s meeting (7:45 p.m. – City of Waukesha Council Chambers) and speak out in support of the city’s application seeking Great Lakes water.

    The Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce.

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