Barrett chairs Great Lakes group; raises water diversion concerns


Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett now chairs a Great Lakes mayors’ group, and is raising more concerns about Waukesha’s proposal to get drinking water from Lake Michigan.

Waukesha would be the first city outside the Great Lakes basin to get Great Lakes water, under a compact signed four years ago. For that reason, many states are watching what happens in Waukesha. Barrett has just taken over as chair of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a bi-national coalition of 90 mayors and other local officials. At a meeting last week, Barrett said there was plenty of talk on how Waukesha also wants the Lake Michigan water to go to some other communities in Waukesha County.

Barrett says any of the other Great Lakes governors could block Waukesha from getting water if they don’t like the expanded proposal. The Waukesha Water Utility says it’s following a Wisconsin law that says water supply areas should be consistent with wastewater treatment areas. Utility general manager Daniel Duchniak says he hopes while Barrett chairs the Great Lakes mayors’ group, Barrett remembers he supported the 2008 regional compact.

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This Friday, the Milwaukee common council may give final word on whether Milwaukee will negotiate with Waukesha on being the source of Lake Michigan water. Last week, Waukesha representatives met with leaders of Oak Creek and hope to have an agreement soon. More talks with the city of Racine may be coming up.