Council approves plan to divert water from Lake Michigan - WNEM TV 5

Council approves plan to divert water from Lake Michigan

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A council representing the eight Great Lakes states has approved a Wisconsin town's application to divert 8.2 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan.

Today, the Great Lakes Compact Council unanimously approved Waukesha's plan to siphon water from Lake Michigan.

The town says the groundwater wells on which it has long relied are contaminated with radium, creating the need for a clean drinking water source.

It needed permission from each Great Lakes state to use Lake Michigan water because it lies just outside the Great Lakes watershed.

Michigan Representatives Candice Miller (R- 10) and Debbie Dingell (D-12) issued this statement, disagreeing with the decision:

“We strongly disagree with today’s vote by the Great Lakes Compact Council approving Waukesha’s request to divert over 8 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan per day. There is nothing more instinctively wrong to Michiganians than to allow for the diversion of the precious, finite resource our magnificent lakes provide.


“Waukesha has known about elevated radium levels in their water supply for decades and has failed to act.  Now, taking the easy way out, they are asking to siphon water from Lake Michigan.  The fact is, they do not meet the criteria required to divert water from the Great Lakes and have not exhausted all alternatives as required by the Compact. Even an independent analysis conducted by a Wisconsin-based coalition of environmental groups – the Wisconsin Compact Implementation Coalition – concluded that Waukesha can, in fact, meet its own water needs by treating existing groundwater wells for radium just as neighboring communities currently do.


“While involved parties who supported this approval claim that we can monitor and enforce the treatment and return of diverted water, the truth is we can’t as evidenced by the inability to accurately monitor and limit the billions of gallons of water being diverted through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, even despite a consent decree issued by the Supreme Court.  Since that decree was issued, subsequent inquires have uncovered diversion levels exceeding the agreed upon amount by nearly 15% as well as insufficiently slow accounting practices, seriously calling into question promises that we can enforce the return of water diverted by Waukesha.


“Protecting and preserving our Great Lakes – one of Mother Nature’s most magnificent treasures – is absolutely critical to preserving our Great Lakes, which is why we have been adamant this application be denied. Today’s decision was a critical first test for the Compact since it was ratified by Congress in 2008. In approving this request, it has failed, setting a precedent that contradicts the Compact’s mission and undermines the water management progress made by the Compact.” 


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