Waukesha is still fine-tuning the water diversion proposal it's filed with the Department of Natural Resources. If the DNR approves the plan, it would still need permission from seven other Great Lakes states in order to move forward.
Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon raised questions regarding the plan at a meeting of the Great Lakes Commission in Milwaukee. She worries about the precedent of letting Waukesha become the first city outside the basin to get lake water under a compact signed five years ago.
“There’s a question about whether there would be kind of a creep – where neighboring communities say, ‘Well, Waukesha’s doing it and we’re having problems too’,” says Prettner Solon.
A commission member from Illinois is raising similar concerns.
Waukesha potentially qualifies for lake water because it's in a county that straddles the basin. Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak says it's likely that only about a half-dozen communities in straddling counties would even apply for Great Lakes water.
Some members of the commission say they're also worried about climate change possibly lowering lake water levels, and whether diversion would be wise if that happens. Waukesha says it would send back as much water as it takes out from Lake Michigan.