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Waukesha Council Unanimously Approves 40-Year Deal To Buy Lake Michigan Water From Milwaukee

8M Gallons Per Day To Be Piped West To Suburb From City

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

The Waukesha Common Council unanimously approved a 40-year plan Tuesday night to buy Lake Michigan drinking water from Milwaukee.

Waukesha will purchase about 8 million gallons of water a day from Milwaukee. When Milwaukee approved the deal last week some officials there said they hoped it would lead to more cooperation between the city and suburb over issues like housing, jobs and transportation.

But Waukesha Common Council Alderman Joe Pieper said Tuesday the newly approved agreement is only about one thing.

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“There is nothing in this contract that dictates where our buses need to go or what type of housing we need to have. This is a water-only deal,” Pieper told the council. He said the contract ensures Waukesha will have a say in any potential changes.

A couple of Waukesha residents spoke against the deal.

Ron Kading said he worries about water rates getting out of control.

“My concern is that we are getting in at a good rate today, but I’m worried about tomorrow. What’s gonna happen tomorrow with Milwaukee water?” Kading asked.

Waukesha officials acknowledge constructing a pipeline to bring in Milwaukee water will raise rates, but they say they’ve built any later cost increases into their projections. Waukesha also said it will count on the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to help control how much Milwaukee charges.

Waukesha will now pursue state and local construction and environmental permits that would help the city become the first community outside the Great Lakes Basin to get lake water under terms of a 2008 multi-state agreement.