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Walker Says State Will Take Time To Consider Waukesha’s Bid To Use Lake Michigan Water

Governor Says There's Uncertainty As To Whether Other Great Lakes States Will Approve Of Plan

James Carlson (CC-BY-NC-SA).

Gov. Scott Walker says he’s in no hurry for the state to decide whether to approve Waukesha’s application to pipe in drinking water from Lake Michigan, meaning the issue may not be resolved before the November election.

Waukesha wants to become the first city outside the Great Lakes Basin to get Great Lakes water under the terms of a 2008 deal between Midwestern states and Canadian provinces.

At one point, the city had expected a Department of Natural Resources decision by this past spring. The DNR, however, ended up not issuing one due to staffing problems.

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Walker said a decision may not come before November because there’s uncertainty as to whether all Great Lakes governors will eventually approve Waukesha’s plan.

“We’re not the final say, so before or after (November) really doesn’t matter,” said Walker. “It’s got to be something that can be upheld by all the other players in the compact.”

Walker said the state will take an excessive amount of time for its due diligence on the proposal.

Waukesha water utility general manager Dan Duchniak said he’s fine with the state’s pace, and that even if Wisconsin and other states weren’t to approve the plan until next year, Waukesha could still probably get a pipeline built by June 2018. That’s when it’s supposed to meet a federal deadline for dealing with radium problems in local groundwater.

“We would be in the process of getting the necessary people under contract so that when that final approval is received, we can hit the ground running,” said Duchniak.

If Walker is not re-elected this fall, that could further change Wisconsin’s timetable. Duchniak said Waukesha would work with whomever is governor, noting that Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle helped forge the 2008 Great Lakes agreement.

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