Waukesha County Chamber pushing for Great Lakes water application

    While the future of the City of Waukesha’s application for Great Lakes water is in question, the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce is urgings its members and other residents to support the Great Lakes water application.
    The chamber issued an email Wednesday requesting support for the city’s application despite a recent letter from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) halting the application.
    “Today we reaffirm our position that Lake Michigan is as the best and only truly sustainable source of radium-free water for the City of Waukesha,” stated the chamber.
    The chamber petition is in response to a letter sent earlier this month to Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima from DNR secretary Matthew Frank. In the letter Frank detailed application flaws citing foremost the city’s need to confirm that the Great Lakes water is the only sustainable option.
    “Due to the fact that it has been publically discussed that the city is examining alternatives to Great Lakes water and is actively considering other sources the department cannot move forward on reviewing the application and the city must confirm that Great Lakes water is in fact the only long term sustainable water option,” wrote Frank.
    Since he was elected earlier this year, Scrima has said that Waukesha should explore alternatives to Lake Michigan as a source for the city’s drinking water.
    Because of high levels of radium in Waukesha’s well water, the DNR has ordered city officials to find a way to improve Waukesha’s drinking water by 2018.
    Frank’s recent letter to Scrima also requested further information on costs and corresponding return flow from the city’s three potential withdrawal sources Racine, Oak Creek and Milwaukee in addition to citing Waukesha’s failure to pay the $5,000 application review fee.
    “I think we need to have a discussion with the DNR, common council, mayor and the water utility to determine how to move forward and we have not had those conversations yet,” said Dan Duchniak, general manager at the Waukesha Water Utility.
    Frank’s reference to the city’s affirmation of Great Lakes water as the only viable option was in response to Scrima’s invitation to Waukesha-based Procorp Enterprises LLC to present options for cost effective radium removal at the May 18 common council meeting.
    Despite the mayor’s quest for alternative drinking water options, both the chamber and Duchniak are supporting the application for Lake Michigan water that was approved by the common council April 8 and submitted to the DNR on May 20.
    Scrima did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.
    “What needs to happen is that we need to discuss with the DNR how to overcome the issue of the mayor looking for other alternatives,” Duchniak said. “All the data shows the Great Lakes as the most sustainable option. I believe in the science behind the study.”
    Waukesha officials have continued dialogue with potential suppliers. Waukesha officials met with city of Milwaukee representatives in May and plan to meet with Racine and Oak Creek officials in the upcoming weeks.
    – BizTimes Milwaukee

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