Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Perhaps a little honesty from Waukesha’s critics is called for

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Yes, it is true as Jim Rowen notes that Milwaukee’s water rates are indeed going up. The numbers have been known for some time and are even lower than they were projected to be a year ago. Rowen, a critic of Waukesha’s water application (and it’s fair to say, hardly a friend to our city), then strays into the territory of complete dishonesty when he says,

New Berlin’s Milwaukee-supplied water is going to cost 39% more, so Waukesha residents – – next in line seeking a similar diversion – – can do the math.

Water purchased from Milwaukee will not be cheap, and water purchased from Racine or Oak Creek will be even pricier because those treatment plants and pumping stations are farther away.

Every supply is getting more expensive. That’s why conservation has importance beyond feeling good about the environment.

Maybe a blend of local well and Fox Riverbank options have merit from a fiscal point of view after all – – even if the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce and various business allies want them reserved for other communities as Waukesha wrestles to find a Lake Michigan supplier.

Rowen assures us that he was paying attention when the presentation on Waukesha’s Great Lakes water application was made yet again Tuesday night. If so, then surely buried in his five pages of notes was the exchange between Water Utility Manager Dan Duchniak and Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima concerning the rate increases.

Duchniak patiently explained to Scrima that the rate increases were figured into the cost calculations and that the Great Lakes option was still the less expensive option, especially when compared to blending any supposed alternatives (none of which are sustainable). When asked by Scrima how the rates could have been known, Duchniak explained that the rates were requested by Milwaukee last year and were known at the time of the application. Duchniak also explained how the rate increases are controlled by the Public Service Commission and not just arbitrarily raised to benefit Milwaukee.

In fact, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article explains how Milwaukee’s request for a rate increase was actually reduced by the Public Service Commission.

I realize that Rowen has an intense visceral dislike for the City of Waukesha, the result of the light rail debates during Rowen’s time in the Norquist Administration and subsequent rail debates. Somehow he sees a city that’s as old as the City of Milwaukee as the evil spawn of urban sprawl*. He doesn’t want Milwaukee to sell Waukesha water because he sees regional economic development as a zero-sum game. But can he at least be honest about it?

*Some day some “anti-sprawl” writer is going to have to justify Milwaukee’s acquisition of the Town of Granville and the resulting transformation of that community. Much of the transformation of Milwaukee’s Northwest side is hardly an advertisement for the good management of Milwaukee.
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