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Waukesha's request and Great Lakes Compact policy

Is water diversion Waukesha’s only option?

WGVU takes a closer look at the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact legal requirements?

“The Great Lakes Compact consists as an agreement of the eight Great Lakes states that prevents large exports of water outside of the basin.”

But as Alan Steinman, Director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University points out there were two exceptions placed within the compact one of which allows Waukesha, which straddles the basin, to apply for an exemption.

“I can understand why they would want this exemption. On the other hand there’s a lot of concern about whether this will become the start of a very slippery slope particularly when you think about what a tremendous amount of water we have in our backyard, what a great resource it is and, how much at risk we are for people who do not have this water available to them and their desire to get it not just a straddling community which is the greatest concern of course.”

Waukesha must meet some stringent criteria before it can receive that exemption. First, all eight Great Lake state governors must give the OK. Second, water drawn in replaced in return flow, or treated water, in volume and finally, it must show it has made every attempt to discover another water source. Steinman doesn’t believe it has. It’s more cost effective to draw from Lake Michigan.

“Waukesha has a large service area outside of the city boundaries itself and their request for this exemption includes water not just for themselves but surrounding communities that are truly outside of the basin, they don’t even straddle but because Waukesha does straddle and they provide the water to this service area Waukesha’s request includes these communities.”

The compact is legislation, legislation can be overturned, and “yea” or “nay” Steinman says this case will end up in federal court.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.