Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Water meeting tonight

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The Waukesha Common Council is meeting tonight to again discuss the water issue, including a letter that will be sent to the Wisconsin DNR.

The Common Council will be asked tonight to request the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to direct all communication on the city’s application to divert Great Lakes water past the subcontinental divide to Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak, making Duchniak the point person for communication and information about the application.

Duchniak said it is reasonable to make him the main contact because of his familiarity of the water utility’s application, especially because the city anticipates requests for technical information through the process of the application.

“We are just ensuring that we can respond to it as quickly as possible,” Duchniak said.

The Common Council meeting begins at 7:45 p.m. today at City Hall, 201 Delafield St. Public comment is scheduled on the agenda. A message left Monday night for Mayor Jeff Scrima was not immediately returned.

The DNR on June 8 directed its response to halt the application’s review process to Scrima, who has publicly criticized the application. The review was halted partially because of Scrima’s comments. The DNR also is seeking additional information on the way the city would return water to Lake Michigan as well as prices estimates for Oak Creek, Racine and Milwaukee.

The draft letter states the city will provide that information and also states that Great Lakes water is the only reasonable option available to the city.

The Common Council on April 8 approved submitting the application. The Common Council will be asked to confirm its position in a letter submitted to the DNR.

The Waukesha Chamber of Commerce offers a “FAQ” explaining their position on the application for Great Lakes water.

How extensively has the water issue been examined?

Addressing the city’s water needs has involved countless hours and resources, both internal and external.  Specifically:

  • Waukesha Water Utility:

o       Held 41 open, public meetings.

o       Contracted with six different engineering firms to analyze the water issue, including the various options from a sustainability and cost perspective.

§         Results:  A 2,000-page analysis, from which the city’s application for Great Lakes water was derived.

  • SEWRPC:

o       Leading the effort to develop a regional water plan, SEWRPC organized a regional advisory committee of 32 experts, which met 21 times to discuss water supply.  Experts included environmentalists, planners, water experts, scientists, as well as leaders in the academic community.

  • City Council:

o       Held numerous pubic information sessions and thoroughly reviewed the data prepared by the Waukesha Water Utility and SEWRPC.

o       After years of study and public input, the Council ultimately concluded the Lake Michigan water was the only cost-effective and sustainable source of water for the city and voted 14-1 this past April to advance the application.

Conclusion:

At Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council is expected to revisit a multi-supply option that was previously reviewed and dismissed.  The Chamber encourages the Waukesha business community to get all the facts and weigh this option (and others) according to the following criteria:

  • Does it provide a long term, environmentally friendly, sustainable (with equal usage and return) water supply for the city?
  • Does it provide the greatest value for the city, with both capital and operating costs providing the least impact on water bills?
  • Alderman Paul Furrer recently explained his position on the issue in the comments of a Spring City Chronicle post, well worth reading.

    I’ll be at the meeting tonight, so if anyone wants to just say “hi” feel free.

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