Waukesha council re-affirms Great Lakes application

    Waukesha’s application to obtain water from the Great Lakes was re-affirmed by the Common Council Tuesday night.
    The council voted 13-to-1 to proceed with sending a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to affirm the city’s stance that Great Lakes water is the city’s most sustainable and the most viable option for the future.
    The special meeting was called to approve sending a letter in response to a letter sent June 8 from DNR secretary Matthew Frank to Mayor Jeff Scrima, halting the review of the application.
    Despite the halt of the application, city officials continued meeting with the cities of Milwaukee, Racine and Oak Creek on negotiations for a future water supply. Cost estimates and details regarding the negotiations will be sent direct to the DNR and were not discussed at the meeting. The projected capital cost for a Milwaukee supply is $164 million.
    Scrima sent a letter to Frank on July 2, raising concerns about the city’s application and re-visiting the use of groundwater to solve Waukesha’s water problem and to comply with a state order by June 30, 2018.
    “Since the DNR letter, they (DNR) heard from the mayor but did not hear from the Common Council. We felt it was important to pull together a letter to formally respond to the questions asked and to be able to get the application process restarted,” said Paul Ybarra, common council president.
    According to Dan Duchniak, general manager at the water utility, the council’s letter is expected to go out to the DNR on Tuesday, Aug. 3, after the mayor’s veto timeframe has passed. The letter drafted by several aldermen initially excluded Scrima from future communication regarding the application. However, the council amended the letter to include Scrima.
    “The Common Council of the City of Waukesha, which is comprised of publicly elected officials, along with the Water Utility Commission, continue to wholeheartedly support the submitted Application,” stated the letter.
    Scrima has vocalized opposition to a potential Milwaukee water supply since his election.
    “My role is to make sure that the DNR law is followed to make sure that the compact law is following and to keep the citizens informed and that is exactly what I’m going to do,” Scrima said after Tuesday’s meeting. He did not return a follow-up phone call for comment regarding a potential veto of the council’s action.
     “No one person, including the mayor, has the authority to unilaterally change the policy of the City once formally adopted by the Common Council,” stated a memorandum attached to the council’s letter from Curt Meitz, city attorney, dated July 22.
    The Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce supports the Great Lakes option, as does the Waukesha County Technical College. Both the City of Waukesha and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Authority have concluded that Great Lakes water is the best option for Waukesha’s public water supply needs. 
    – BizTimes Milwaukee

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