Waukesha water diversion via Milwaukee looks cloudy


Waukesha’s hope to get drinking water from Lake Michigan is looking cloudy, after action on Wednesday by a Milwaukee city committee.

Waukesha wants to become the first city outside the Great Lakes basin to get Great Lakes water since a regional compact was signed four years ago. A Milwaukee common council committee has unanimously recommended that contract talks between Milwaukee and Waukesha should begin, but that the Lake Michigan water only go to current service areas of the Waukesha water utility. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett took the unusual step of testifying before a city committee to support the narrow scope of the negotiations. Barrett says the possibility that Waukesha may someday provide water service to other Waukesha County towns is a concern.

Barrett says there is no demonstrated need for the Waukesha County towns to get the water. Waukesha water utility general manager Daniel Duchniak says a regional planning commission has set up Waukesha’s future water service area under state law, and that Milwaukee’s wish to only talk about current service boundaries may have Waukesha looking elsewhere for Lake Michigan water.

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But Waukesha admits building a water pipelines – both to source fresh water and return treated wastewater – to those other communities would be more expensive.