Taking the plunge together?
Brookfield might join Waukesha in asking for Lake Michigan
Needs for deeper wells, new well prompt consideration
for joint effort
By Brandon Lorenz
Published February 5th, 2005
BROOKFIELD - In an effort to secure the city's long-term
water needs, Brookfield may join with Waukesha to apply
for a diversion of water from Lake Michigan, Public Works
Director Tom Grisa said Thursday.
"We have had a number of meetings about what to
do if Waukesha goes after Lake Michigan water," said
About half of the city's 22 wells pump water from deep
aquifers, which have been dropping about 6 feet annually,
Grisa said. Two of the city's deep wells also exceed the
federal limits on radium, requiring the city to spend
about $800,000 a year to remove the radioactive element.
The city will need at least one new well by 2010 to meet
its water needs, according to city plans. While Grisa
said he is confident the city will be able to find suitable
wells, the city may explore diverting water from Lake
Michigan, he said.
Water diversion from the lake basin is governed by the
Council of Great Lakes Governors in Chicago. Communities
that lie outside the basin need the approval from the
group to remove water from the basin.
Residents who live east of Calhoun Road in Brookfield
lie within the basin and could receive Lake Michigan water.
The city of Waukesha, on the other hand, lies west of
the divide and cannot get access to the water without
Waukesha Water Utility Manager Dan Duchniak said the
city has not made a request for the water but is waiting
to see how the Council of Great Lakes Governors revises
the rules for water diversion. The set of rules is called
That process could be complete by the summer, said David
Naftzger, executive director of the Council of Great Lakes
But Duchniak said a joint application makes sense because
it would allay fears that dozens of communities could
deluge the council with diversion requests.
"If we choose to go down that road, one of the questions
that has always been out there is, if we allow access
for Waukesha, isn't that just going to open the door for
other communities and it would snowball," Duchniak
Grisa said cooperating would also reduce infrastructure
costs because the two communities could conceivably share
"Technically there's not that much of an issue,"
said Grisa. "It's just dealing with economics and
equality issues differently. People have different ideas
on what is fair."
In the meantime, despite the fact that the deep sandstone
aquifer beneath the city is steadily dropping, the city
should not have a problem finding new sources of water,
Grisa said. The only issue is cost because many of the
prime well locations are either already taken or built
on, he said.
"It becomes an issue of economics more than cost,"
It costs the city about $2 to pump 1,000 gallons of water
now. Pumping water from Lake Michigan would cost about
$3 per 1,000 gallons, Grisa said.
But with the city facing radium problems in two wells
and possible problems with a third, there may come a time
when it is more cost-effective to pump water from the
lake, city officials say.
"Let's look at Lake Michigan water," Grisa
said. "If there is someone like Waukesha, it would
make sense to pursue it regionally with them."
(Brandon Lorenz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)