Milwaukee mayor says he would be open
to selling city water
Published June 15, 2004
MILWAUKEE - Mayor Tom Barrett says he's open to exploring
the notion of Waukesha suburbs funneling some of the property
taxes from their new commercial and industrial development
to Milwaukee in exchange for tapping Lake Michigan water.
"Whether it's water, whether it's sharing the tax
base, I think all those issues are issues that certainly
create an opportunity for regional cooperation,"
Barrett told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"It's far too premature to say what the quid pro
quo might be, but I think having the conversation is a
good starting point."
Milwaukee is looking for money to upgrade its sewer system.
Barrett said that, in order to prosper and compete with
other economic centers in the country, southeastern Wisconsin
communities must forge ties and get past old parochial
After six years of negotiations, Racine agreed in 2002
to provide municipal sewer and water to neighboring Mount
Pleasant, Sturtevant and the Town of Caledonia.
Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley said the timing
might be right for something such as a sewer-water swap
and tax revenue sharing.
It would be difficult to accomplish but, if successful,
the move would usher in "a landmark change in the
way the region is governed," Finley said.
City of Waukesha officials already have met with Milwaukee
and state Department of Natural Resources officials to
discuss technical details of moving water from the lake
to Waukesha, said Dan Duchniak, director of Waukesha's
Waukesha Mayor Carol Lombardi said the city would consider
some kind of sharing with Milwaukee.
"I am a big supporter of regionalism," Lombardi
said. "We have to look to partnerships in service
sharing and forget about boundaries."
By law, Great Lakes water cannot now be extended to communities
outside the subcontinental divide - a line that runs through
eastern Waukesha County, unless they get approval from
all eight Great Lakes governors and the premiers from
Quebec and Ontario, Canadian provinces bordering the lakes.
But Great Lakes officials are looking into changes in