Waukesha water vote will wait until next week

Regional Body delays vote to allow more review

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

The first of two critical votes for Waukesha’s request to use Lake Michigan water will now take place next week, as the Regional Body delayed action on a declaration of findings to allow representatives to consult with their states’ leadership.

Regional Body chair Jim Zehringer, the designee of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, plans to call for a vote during a webinar meeting to be held May 18, according to Peter Johnson, Regional Body secretariat staff.

The Great Lakes Regional Body is made up of the governors of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, plus the premiers of Ontario and Quebec, or their designees.

The body has been working through Waukesha’s request to divert up to 10.1 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan. Waukesha’s water supply is contaminated with radium and the city is under a court order to establish a new source by 2018.

The 2008 Great Lakes Compact prohibits diversions of water outside of the Great Lakes basin, but allows for exceptions in the case of cities in counties that straddle the edge of the basin.

Waukesha’s initial request called for diverted water to go to the city, but also large portions of the towns of Waukesha, Delafield and Genesee, plus part of the city of Pewaukee.

The Regional Body dropped much of the potential service area outside the city at meetings in April, leaving portions of the town of Waukesha and a piece of the city of Pewaukee as areas to be served. The total amount of water was reduced to 8.4 million gallons per day during a webinar last week.

The latest draft calls for a further reduction, with diverted water going only to the city’s current service area and town of Waukesha islands that are completely surround by the city. The diversion amount was also reduced to 8.2 million gallons per day.

Still, multiple designees sought time to consider the request with their governors, pushing off a vote that was set for this week.

“The discussion is continuing,” Johnson said.

Much of the concern about the communities outside of the city receiving water has centered on whether those areas have actually requested a diversion and whether they have demonstrated a need for the water.

Once the Regional Body signs off on its declaration of findings, the request will go to the Compact Council, which is made up of just the eight Great Lakes states. The city would need all eight to sign off to be able to divert water.

A final vote by the Council will have to wait until at least 30 days after the Regional Body vote.

Michigan designee Grant Trigger said during last week’s webinar that it is important to have all the details worked out before forwarding a declaration of findings. He said his experience has been the Council tends to approve what the Regional Body does.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

No posts to display