Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Guess the application is complete after all

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The excuse we were given the other day by Mayor Jeff Scrima for doing a double-reverse on his water position was that while he supported the council’s actions approving the application, he thought the application was incomplete. Well, the state Department of Natural Resources doesn’t agree with Scrima. The application is “sufficiently complete” and the DNR will begin scheduling public meetings on the issue. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where we’re headed:

In several months, if the DNR’s analysis confirms there is no other reasonable water source available to Waukesha and the state approves the application, the city must have a purchase agreement with one of the suppliers in hand before the application can be forwarded to each of the other seven Great Lakes states for their approval.

Lake Michigan was selected as the best quality, most reliable and most affordable of more than a dozen surface and groundwater sources studied in the last decade, according to Duchniak. Those studies identified Milwaukee as the preferred supplier due to lower startup costs. It is closer than Oak Creek and Racine and total cost of the initial investment in pipeline, pumps and other facilities would be an estimated $164 million.

The city is under a 2018 deadline to fully comply with federal radium-safe drinking water standards. Each of the city’s eight deep wells that draw radium-contaminated water from saturated sandstone would be abandoned if the lake water request is approved. Those deep wells provide 87% of the city’s water supply.

Scrima has publicly stated his preference for using several surface water and groundwater sources close to the city — existing deep wells with radium removal treatment, more shallow wells and wells built on the banks of the Fox River, the river and water stored in local quarries — rather than the lake. Startup cost of this multi-source option has been estimated at $286 million.

Waukesha is the first community outside the Great Lakes drainage basin to seek a diversion of water under terms of a regional Great Lakes protection compact.

The compact would require Waukesha to return treated wastewater to the lake. The city has proposed discharging the water to Underwood Creek immediately south of Blue Mound Road in Brookfield. The creek flows to the Menomonee River, a tributary of the Milwaukee River, which empties into the lake.

Again, not only is the startup cost $286 million (compared to $164 million), the supposed multi-source “solution” would not be sufficiently reliable a source of water (health, safety and availability), nor would it be environmentally acceptable given the likely impact on the surface water features surrounding Waukesha. That’s if it’s even possible given that the quarries in Scrima’s fantasy are outside of the city limits and the additional shallow wells necessary would certainly be the source of incredible litigation with the city of Waukesha’s neighbors.

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