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Contact information
For information on this page, contact:
Shaili Pfeiffer
Water Use Section
Bureau of Drinking and Groundwater
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921
Phone number: 608-267-7630

City of Waukesha water diversion application

The City of Waukesha, located in southeast Wisconsin 17 miles west of Lake Michigan, received an exception from the prohibition of diversions under the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement. The Compact and Agreement prohibit diversions of Great Lakes water, with limited exceptions. One exception allows a “community within a straddling county,” such as Waukesha, to apply for a diversion of Great Lakes water. The City's application was approved by the Compact Council and Regional Body in 2016.

Current status: May 2017

The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council) approved, with conditions, the City of Waukesha's Great Lakes diversion application on June 21, 2016. The Compact Council is composed of the Governors of each of the eight Great Lakes States.

The City of Waukesha has begun the process to obtain all required federal, state and local permits and approvals necessary to construct and operate a diversion of Lake Michigan water. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will issue a final diversion approval once all required permits are issued. The final diversion approval will include all conditions of the approval required by the Compact Council. The city plans to divert Lake Michigan water from the Oak Creek Water Utility and discharge treated wastewater to the Root River.

The Compact Council approved Waukesha's application with conditions including: a reduced water supply volume of 8.2 million gallons per day and a smaller diversion area that includes only the area currently served by the Waukesha Water Utility. Other conditions include monitoring wastewater impacts to the Root River, and annual reporting to the Great Lakes states and provinces on the diversion.

The final Compact Council Decision is available from the Compact Council [exit DNR].

With the Compact Council approval, the City has started applications for permits and approvals, including, but not limited to:

  • determination of Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA) compliance with a final EIS;
  • the Wisconsin Public Service Commission's Construction Authorization for construction required to implement the diversion;
  • Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) Permit for wastewater discharge to the Root River;
  • Wisconsin Chap. 30 permits for pipeline stream crossings and Root River outfall;
  • Water Supply Service Area plan approval; and
  • DNR public water systems construction plan approval.

The City expects to submit its first permit application to the DNR in the beginning of 2018. Construction of the pipeline to the city is currently planned to be completed by 2023.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative requested a hearing from the Compact Council on the City of Waukesha diversion approval in August 2016. The Council reviewed the petition, voted to not open the Waukesha diversion for reconsideration on April 20, 2017 and released a legal opinion [PDF exit DNR] on the request for the hearing on May 4, 2017. Details on this hearing process are available from the Compact Council [exit DNR].

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Last revised: Monday May 08 2017