Cities Of Waukesha, Milwaukee Now Drinking-Water Allies

Cities Still Won't Team Up On Wastewater

water faucet
espensorvik (CC-BY)

Milwaukee and Waukesha city officials have signed an agreement that will allow Milwaukee to sell Lake Michigan drinking water to the suburban community, but there are still no plans for Waukesha to send treated wastewater to the bigger city.

Instead, Waukesha will stay with plans to pipe the treated waste back to Lake Michigan through the Root River in Franklin and Racine, even though Milwaukee is closer to Waukesha.

Waukesha Water Utility general manager Dan Duchniak said the Root River will gain from the plan.

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Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton, left, speaks at the water sales signing ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2017 as Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and others listen. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

“The (discharged) water will improve the quality of the water in the Root River and will provide an overall environmental benefit to the Root River,” Duchniak said Wednesday at a signing ceremony in Waukesha.

That statement disappoints John Dickert, a former Racine mayor who now leads the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative. He said he doubts Waukesha’s promise that the wastewater will improve the river.

“You know, I’m not a scientist myself. But I think just the layperson can say that I don’t see how any methodology in the world would suggest dumping treated wastewater with pharmaceutical remnants in it, with biologic remnants in it, and things like that are going to make a river cleaner,” Dickert said.

He said even if Waukesha’s plan to use the Root River can’t be changed, he wants Midwest governors to spend more time considering return flows to the Great Lakes when looking at any future drinking water diversion requests that are filed under a multi-state agreement signed in 2008.