July 12, 2011
MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has determined Waukesha's application to use Lake Michigan water for its drinking water supply is complete, which begins the extensive state review process for the city's request.
Public informational hearings have been set for late July in southeastern Wisconsin for people to learn about, and comment on the scope of the state's review of the City of Waukesha Water Diversion Application.
The first comment period will be open until Aug. 13, with a second comment period and public hearings scheduled once DNR has completed its review and has a draft decision and draft environmental impact statement (EIS) ready sometime after November 2011, according to Shaili Pfeiffer, the DNR water use specialist coordinating the review.
The city has applied to DNR for an approval to divert water for public water supply purposes from Lake Michigan to an area that lies outside the Great Lakes Basin. Waukesha asserts in its application that it needs a new source of water to address both water quantity and water quality concerns.
Under international and national agreements signed in 2005 and subsequent implementing federal and state laws, diversions of Great Lakes water outside the basin are prohibited, with limited exceptions. Requests such as the city's must be reviewed and approved by the home state and by other Great Lakes states and provinces.
If the DNR determines the application is approvable later this winter, it will be forwarded to other Great Lakes states and provinces for review and comment. All the Great Lakes states must approve, before any final approvals can be issued by Wisconsin.
Waukesha's application asserts that the city needs a new source of water to address water quantity and quality concerns. Waukesha now gets its public water supply from groundwater wells in deep aquifers, where water levels have dropped more than 500 feet and are continuing to decline up to 9 feet every year. The groundwater in the deep aquifer also contains high levels of radium, a carcinogen.
Waukesha seeks to eventually divert an annual average of 10.9 million gallons of water per day with a maximum day diversion of 18.5 million gallons per day. The water is proposed to serve an area that includes Waukesha and may serve portions of Pewaukee and the towns of Genesee, Waukesha and Delafield.
The application identifies Milwaukee, Racine, and Oak Creek as potential water suppliers, and identifies Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa, the Root River and Lake Michigan as possible locations to discharge its wastewater. Underwood Creek is listed as the preferred alternative.
For more information on the application and review process, see the Waukesha Diversion webpage on the DNR website: City of Waukesha Water Diversion Application
The public information meetings and hearings will all start at 5:30 p.m. with an open house in which people can view displays, pick up handouts, and talk to DNR staff. A presentation and question and answer period will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the formal public hearing.
During this first public participation step, any comments are welcome; however, comments at this time are particularly requested on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement and the review criteria. The time allowed for comments at the hearings may be limited, depending on the number of persons wishing to make comments. Therefore, the DNR encourages speakers to also prepare written comments.
The meetings/hearings are set for the following dates and locations:
Written comments may be submitted until Aug.13, 2011, via U.S mail to Kay McConnell, DNR Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater, Box 7921. Madison, WI 53707-7921 or by email to [DNRWaukeshaDiversionApp@wisconsin.gov].
For more information, see the City of Waukesha Water Diversion Application page of the DNR website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Shaili Pfeiffer (608) 267-7630