By guest blogger, Marc Smith, NWF Great Lakes Policy Manager
The highly watched Lake Michigan diversion crusade from the city of Waukesha hit a pretty big snag this week as the WI DNR returned the application back to the city because it was deemed “incomplete.”
The WI DNR in a letter to Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima on June 8th, outlined the following issues that deemed the application incomplete:
- Failure to show no other reasonable water supply alternative. The application strictly says that Great Lakes water is the only option. However, the city is currently continuing to examine other alternatives to a Great Lakes diversion. The Great Lakes Compact is clear that any application for a diversion demonstrates that there is no reasonable water supply alternative;
- Failure to analyze impacts of proposed return flow options. This is big. How can the WI DNR accurately review these options without both the point of withdrawal and the corresponding return flow location?
- Failure to include a cost analysis. How much will this cost? Seems a fair question, don’t you think? Not only that, but the Great Lakes Compact is clear that you must include this information;
- Failure to pay the minimal $5,000 application fee. This is kind of embarrassing. How could you forget to pay this small amount when the city of Waukesha is reported to have spent between $1-$2 million in consulting fees alone on this application?
Kudos to the WI DNR for how they have handled this application. Even though we may have concerns that this application was being processed without rules in place to implement the Great Lakes Compact, they should be commended for taking this application very seriously by going forward on an Environmental Impact Statement and now…ruling it incomplete.
So, now the status of this application is really uncertain. As the new Mayor continues to explore other alternatives to a future water supply for Waukesha, who will do the above requests from the WI DNR when the water utility says that Lake Michigan is the only option? Seems there is a very tense political problem in Waukesha to say the least.