Where will Waukesha get its water from? Residents, city leaders sound off during hearing

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Lake Michigan

WAUKESHA — Waukesha residents on Thursday, February 18th made their case as to why they should be allowed to get water from Lake Michigan.

Officials from the “Great Lakes Compact Council” were in town to hear public comment on Waukesha’s plan to take water from Lake Michigan and return the treated wastewater back to the lake.

DNR officials say Waukesha’s current system, which draws from an aquifer, isn’t sustainable and vulnerable to contamination.

Critics say it sets a bad precedent, but supports argue all of the criteria has been met, and there are no better options.

“The purpose of the (Great Lakes Compact) was to ensure that decisions are made on science, not politics. It’s hard to imagine a water supply decision that has received more investigation than Waukesha’s,” Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow and County Board Chairman Paul Decker testified at the hearing, held by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council members.

“Thirteen years of sound research led by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has gone into developing a sustainable water supply plan for all of southeastern Wisconsin.  The best and brightest water utility professionals from around the state, including representatives from the City of Milwaukee, endorsed the Regional Water Supply Plan that embraces the City of Waukesha accessing Lake Michigan water. Today we stand in proud support of moving an important part of that plan forward by supporting the City of Waukesha’s application to use and return Lake Michigan water,” Farrow said in a statement.

“The conversion by the City of Waukesha to a Lake Michigan source of water with return flow is grounded in years of research, sound science and responsible land use planning.  We encourage the Regional Body to consider this information in developing its Declaration of Finding and encourage the Governors’ Compact Council to support the City of Waukesha application,” Decker said in a statement.

The final plan must be approved by several states and Canada.

CLICK HERE for a statement from the Waukesha Water Utility on testimony Thursday.