Waukesha files new application for Lake Michigan water

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:20 pm

The City of Waukesha has submitted an updated application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for permission to use Lake Michigan for its drinking water.

The community is under a federal order to find a new source because the underground aquifer it uses is tainted with radon.

The city lies the Lake Michigan watershed. A regional compact requires that such outliers must first obtain permission from all eight states that drain into the Great Lakes before withdrawing water from the lake.

Dan Duchniak, general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility, said Monday that the revised application updates the city’s conservation plan. He said Waukesha would return as much treated water to the lake as it removes.

In the revised application, Waukesha is pursuing an agreement in which the City of Oak Creek would provide the Lake Michigan water, instead of the original plan to partner with the City of Milwaukee.

“Residents of the Great Lakes states should support Waukesha’s application,” said Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi. “Waukesha has gone to great lengths to create a model application that protects the environment, promotes public health and returns every drop of water back to the lake. In working with Waukesha, Oak Creek has created a win-win scenario that is great for our region and promotes efficiency in local government, goals that can be supported by taxpayers regardless of what state they live in.”

The revised application also includes a change in Waukesha’s preferred route for returning water to the Great Lakes after use. The new preference is to return the water via the Root River, a tributary that flows to Lake Michigan.

The Root River was among the alternatives included in Waukesha’s original application, but a discharge to Underwood Creek in Milwaukee County was the preferred return flow route at that time.

“The Root is not a new alternative, but it is now our preferred alternative,” Duchniak said.

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