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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 DNR released a draft Technical Review and draft Enviornmental Impact Statement on the City of Waukesha’s Diversion Application and accepted public comments on those documents through August 28, 2015. The DNR is currently reviewing and considering the comments received as it prepares a final Technical Review and final EIS.
A full description of the public participation process is available on the “Public Participation” tab. The “Proposal” tab includes the City of Waukesha’s application submitted to the DNR on October 14, 2013 and subsequent documents submitted to the DNR by the City of Waukesha in response to agency questions.
Three public hearing were held in Waukesha, Milwaukee, and Racine on August 17 and 18, 2015. These meetings all included an informational presentation and were recorded.
Public comments were accepted through August 28, 2015. The DNR will review public comments related to the draft Technical Review and summarize and respond to public comments on the Draft EIS before the DNR releases a Final Technical Review and Final EIS.
Flow chart for next steps on review of Waukesha application
The City of Waukesha submitted an updated Application for a Lake Michigan Diversion with Return Flow in mid-October 2013. The application asserts that Waukesha needs a new source of water to address water quantity and quality concerns. Waukesha currently obtains its public water supply primarily from groundwater wells in the deep aquifer. Water levels in the deep aquifer are hundreds of feet lower than they were predevelopment. Groundwater pumped from the deep aquifer contains high levels of radium, a carcinogen. The public supply is supplemented by water from the shallow aquifer. Waukesha seeks an exception from the prohibition of diversions under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.
Quantity and service area
Waukesha seeks to divert an annual average of 10.1 million gallons of water per day with a maximum day diversion of 16.7 million gallons per day by final build-out of the water supply service area (approximately 2050). The water is proposed to serve an area that includes all of the City of Waukesha and may also serve portions of the City of Pewaukee and the towns of Waukesha, Genesee, and Delafield in the future.
Water supply and wastewater return
The application proposes to purchase treated Lake Michigan water from the City of Oak Creek. The water will be transported to Waukesha via a pipeline and distributed to customers. The application also proposes that, after consumptive use, remaining water along with infiltration and inflow stormwater will be treated at the Waukesha wastewater treatment plant before it is piped to the preferred discharge alternative, the Root River.
Application for a Lake Michigan diversion with return flow — October 2013
- Volume 1 - Application Summary
- Volume 2 - City of Waukesha Water Supply Service Area Plan
- Volume 3 - City of Waukesha Water Conservation Plan
- Volume 4 - City of Waukesha Return Flow Plan
- Volume 5 - City of Waukesha Environmental Report for Water Supply Alternatives
Supplemental application materials
|Dec 3, 2013||Letter to Waukesha Water Utility|
|Dec 13, 2013||Letter to Waukesha Water Utility|
|Feb 11, 2014||Letter from Waukesha Water Utility – Re: Conservation|
|Feb 20, 2014||Letter from Waukesha Water Utility – Re: water demand projections|
|May 23, 2014||Letter to the mayor of the City of Waukesha|
|Jul 17, 2014||Letter to EPA Water Division Director Hyde re: Return Flow|
|Jul 17, 2014||Letter to Waukesha Water Utility re: Return Flow|
|Jul 25, 2014||Letter from City of Waukesha re: Return Flow|
|Sep 4, 2014||Letter from EPA Water Division Director Hyde re: Return Flow|
|Apr 2, 2015||Letter from Waukesha Water Utility re: Return Flow|
The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (Compact) became effective on December 8, 2008. Together with the Companion Great Lakes — St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, the Compact addresses water quantity management in the Great Lakes Basin. The Compact and related legislation implementing the Compact´s provisions in Wisconsin set out requirements for sustainable water use in the Great Lakes Basin. The Compact, codified in Chapter 281 of the Wisconsin Statutes, prohibits diversions of Great Lakes water, with limited exceptions.
One exception to the Compact´s ban on diversions allows a “community within a straddling county” to apply for a diversion of Great Lakes water. A “community within a straddling county” means any incorporated city, town, or the equivalent thereof, that is located outside the basin but wholly within a county that lies partly within the basin. The City of Waukesha qualifies as a community within a straddling county under the Compact.
A proposal for a diversion to a community in a straddling county is not allowed under the Compact unless all of the following apply:
- the water is used solely for public water supply purposes;
- the community is otherwise without an adequate supply of potable water;
- the diversion meets the exception standard [See sections 281.343 (4n)(d) and 281.346 (4)(f) of the Wisconsin Statutes];
- the proposal maximizes the amount of water that originated in the basin that is returned to the basin and minimizes the amount of water that originated outside of the basin that is returned to the basin;
- there is no reasonable water supply alternative in the basin in which the community is located (in Wisconsin, that would be the upper Mississippi River basin), including conservation of existing water supplies;
- the proposal will not endanger the integrity of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem based upon a determination that the proposal will have no significant adverse impact on the Great Lakes basin ecosystem;
- the proposal is consistent with an approved water supply service area plan under section 281.348 of the Wisconsin Statutes that covers the public water supply system;
- the proposal is reviewed by the regional body (the Governors of the eight Great Lakes States and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec, Canada); and
- the proposal is approved by the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (consisting of the Governors of the eight Great Lakes States) with no disapproving votes.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process
The DNR decided to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) process for the proposed Waukesha diversion under the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act or WEPA, and administrative code NR 150.
In 2010 the Department announced it was starting scoping for the EIS process and requested public comments on a draft list of topics for the EIS.
The Draft EIS has been released for public review. There will also be three public hearings August 17 and 18. See the “Current Status” tab for the documents and public participation details.
Public participation is critical to the review of any diversion application. There will be many opportunities and formats to participate in reviewing Waukesha’s diversion application. If you would like to receive notice that information on this page has been updated, please sign up with GovDelivery.
Review process for the Waukesha diversion application
The DNR published a public notice declaring the City of Waukesha’s application for Great Lakes water complete.
The following steps outline the review process for the application including the opportunities for the public, Wisconsin tribes, and state and federal agencies to participate in reviewing Waukesha’s diversion application. This process may be modified as needed and will be updated accordingly.
Step 1: Consultation/informational meeting/public hearings
(Meetings held in 2011 on July 26, 27 and 28.)
- DNR consults with the American Indian Tribes and Bands located in Wisconsin.
- DNR holds public informational meeting/public hearing:
- To introduce the review process.
- To receive comments on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scope and the interpretation of the statutory review criteria.
- Includes 30-day public comment period.
The following document summarizes the comments received — both written and oral — through the first public comment period and provides a response to the comments.
Step 2: DNR receives revised application in October 2013
- The applicant holds informational meetings in Oak Creek, Racine, Milwaukee and Waukesha (Fall 2013).
- The DNR accepted comments on the revised application.
- The DNR has correspondence with applicant and receives supplemental application information through spring 2015.
Step 3: DNR prepares technical review, draft decision and draft EIS
- The DNR reviews the application and public comments.
- The DNR prepares the draft technical review and draft EIS, and makes a preliminary decision on whether the application is approvable. (The technical review is a thorough analysis and evaluation conducted to determine whether the proposal meets the statutory criteria for approval.)
Step 4: Public meetings held in 2015 on August 17 and 18
- DNR consults with the American Indian Tribes and Bands located in Wisconsin.
- DNR requests public comments on Draft EIS and draft technical review.
- DNR holds three public hearings on the draft technical review and Draft EIS, and provides a public comment period.
Step 5: DNR finalizes the technical review and EIS → WE ARE HERE
- DNR reviews the public comments, and finalizes the technical review and EIS.
- DNR determines if the application is approvable.
If DNR determines application is approvable the application must be forwarded to the Regional Body and Compact Council made up of the Great Lakes States and Provinces. The Regional Body (States and Provinces) will first issue a declaration of findings. Subsequently the Compact Council (States) must approve the application for it to move forward.
Step 6: Regional body and Compact council review
- The Regional Body and Compact Council hold an informational hearing in Waukesha.
- Upon completion of its review, the Regional Body will issue a declaration of findings to the Compact Council. (The Regional Body has a goal to review applications in 90 days.)
- The Compact Council will then consider Waukesha’s application in light of the Regional Body’s findings. (The Compact Council will endeavor to approve or deny the application within 60 days of receipt of the Regional Body’s findings.)
- Opportunities for dispute resolution under the Great Lakes Compact.
If the Compact Council approves the Waukesha diversion application, the application is returned to the DNR for a final decision.
Step 7: DNR final decision
- DNR conducts the necessary permit reviews (examples - WPDES, Chap. 30, etc.) and issues decisions on the permits.
- DNR issues a final decision on the application.
- Opportunities for dispute resolution in the State of Wisconsin.
The applicable state statutes include:
- The Great Lakes Basin, which includes both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior watersheds, dissects Wisconsin. The Mississippi River watershed covers most of Wisconsin’s landmass.
- The City of Waukesha is located within the Straddling County of Waukesha but lies outside of the Lake Michigan watershed.