Wisconsin Environmental Regulators Give Final Approval To Waukesha Water Diversion Request

City Is Under Court Order To Meet Drinking Water Standards For Radium

lake michigan, milwaukee, Gretchen Brown
Gretchen Brown/WPR

Wisconsin environmental officials have given the city of Waukesha final approval to withdraw water from Lake Michigan.

The city asked regulators in 2010 for permission to divert up to 8.2 million gallons from the lake daily for public use because city wells are contaminated with radium. The city is under a court order to fully comply with federal and state drinking water standards for radium by Sept. 1, 2023.

The request triggered a lengthy review process under the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement between eight Great Lakes states that bars diverting water outside the Great Lakes basin. Great Lakes governors approved the city of Waukesha’s request in 2016.

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The city must meet water conservation requirements and monitor the quality of treated water that’s returned through the Root River as part of the diversion approval.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that it had issued its final approval for the withdrawal, which is expected to begin in 2023.