Well, he managed to screw it up temporarily
Waukesha’s water application has been put on hold by the DNR while the mayor pursues unicorns and mermaids. Good thing there was an 18-month cushion built into the plan.
State Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matthew Frank told Mayor Jeff Scrima Wednesday in a letter that the department will not begin reviewing Waukesha’s application for a Great Lakes water supply until the mayor and other city officials stop their search for other possible sources.
A 2008 Great Lakes protection compact requires a municipality seeking lake water to demonstrate “there is no reasonable water supply alternative” other than the lakes, Frank says in the letter.
Though the city’s application documents repeatedly state that lake water is the only sustainable water supply option available to Waukesha, the mayor has publicly stated his preference to continue evaluating other options, such as more wells, the Fox River and even continuing to remove radium from water pumped out of deep wells in a sandstone aquifer.
“The city must confirm that Great Lakes water is in fact the only long term sustainable water option,” Frank says in the letter.
The Common Council approved submitting the application on April 8 and it was delivered to the DNR on May 20. Scrima, however, criticized a Great Lakes application in his successful campaign for mayor. He was elected April 6, defeating first-term mayor Larry Nelson, who championed the Great Lakes application.
Okay, they want Waukesha to confirm there is no alternative. Since the only “alternative” is to drill shallow wells to the west, let’s remind ourselves why that won’t work:
1) The wells will affect the nearby surface water features. I don’t think the DNR will like that.
2) Given the reaction from the Town of Waukesha to us drilling one well near them, imagine what all of Waukesha’s neighbors will do when we start drilling near them. How fast will they run to the legislature and the DNR for relief? Might as well build the pipeline now.
3) Oh yeah, even if one and two weren’t insurmountable obstacles, we can expect more regulation from the legislature, the DNR and the EPA in the future about water quality.
4) Even if we turn a blind eye to points 1-3, drilling those wells will still cost more. And the more you try to avoid affecting the surface bodies of water and other communities, the more you have to spread out the wells. That will increase the costs and annoy more of Waukesha’s neighbors.
Okay, what about some other options?
1) We could try the radium-pellet-producing process. Of course, what do you do with the waste? I suggest storing it in the unused rooms in Mayor Jeff Scrima’s home.
2) Oh yeah, that won’t work in the long run either because the legislature is considering a law that would require communities to replenish the aquifers they draw from. I guess we’ll be building a pipeline to Jefferson County. Hey, that will be inexpensive, right?
3) We could try more conservation. Let’s see, we already have some of the most “progressive” water policies and conservation measures in the state. Not only will we run into the law of diminishing returns, but we’ll make life too difficult for Waukesha’s few industrial production companies. That may suit some anti-Waukesha fanatics on the East Side of Milwaukee. It should not be good enough for the people of Waukesha, their mayor, and most reasonable people.
4) We could just let our city dry up and blow away. We wouldn’t be the first ghost town, and we won’t be the last.
No, I don’t like that idea, either. Fortunately, the Great Lakes Compact allows for diversions just so we can avoid such a scenario.
At least it looks like the DNR is just asking for the City of Waukesha to say, gee, there is no other option other than Lake Michigan. Okay, the city council meets Tuesday. They should vote to send the application back to the DNR with a note attached saying that there is no other option for water.
And then it’s time for Mayor Jeff Scrima to turn to some of his supporters and say, “Okay, for the good of the city, I’m willing to support the application. I will stop trying to have it both ways. I will give the application my full support.”
Ponce De Leon searched Florida without success for the Fountain of Youth. Scrima should spare himself the trouble.