Plans To Divert Water From Lake Michigan To Waukesha Draw Public Comment

DNR Has Given Preliminary Approval Of The Plan

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Plans by Waukesha to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan brought out dozens of speakers on Monday night at the first of three public hearings on the matter.

The state Department of Natural Resources has given preliminary approval for Waukesha to be the first community outside the Great Lakes Basin to get Great Lakes water under a 2008 compact. Waukesha County straddles the basin’s boundaries, making the city eligible to apply for diverted water under the compact.

At a DNR hearing in Waukesha, local resident Sandy Hahm argued against final approval for the water diversion. Hahn said his city is too focused on growth.

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“For decades, the city has annexed what for me are countless acres and expanded internally, all while being unable to supply clean water to their current constituents,” he said.

But Waukesha officials said there’s no reasonable alternative to Lake Michigan water as a way to avoid the radium contamination in current city well water.

More hearings on the diversion plan are set for Tuesday in Milwaukee and Racine.