Waukesha officials to pursue details
on lake water plan
They may question regulators next month
By Darryl Enriquez
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published August 31st, 2004
Waukesha - Local water officials have several opportunities
next month to press Great Lakes regulatory officials for
details on acquiring 20 million gallons daily from Lake
Michigan to replace the city's troubled wells.
Representatives from eight states and two Canadian provinces
that border the Great Lakes are to gather Sept. 8 at Navy
Pier in Chicago for a presentation on possible changes
to the charter that regulates water quantity issues, including
requests for withdrawals.
The proposed changes are known as the Annex 2001 Amendment
to the Great Lakes Charter, which the bordering jurisdictions
signed in 1985.
Waukesha officials hope the amendment ultimately will
reverse charter policy that forbids most communities outside
the Great Lakes basin from withdrawing water. The amendment
is in response to a failed 1998 request from a Canadian
company to sell 60 million gallons of Lake Superior water
to Asia yearly.
Dan Duchniak, general manager of the Waukesha Water Utility,
said early versions of the amendment contain "gray
areas" that he wants clarified through questions
posed at the Chicago gathering or at a Sept. 28 public
comment session at State Fair Park in West Allis.
"These mostly are questions for clarification purposes,
so we know what we need to go through with our applications,"
he said. "There are a lot of gray areas."
Questions will include whether the city must return to
the basin as much water as it takes from the lake - which
includes the larger issue of returning water at all -
and whether Waukesha actually is outside the sub-continental
About a year ago, Waukesha officials announced their
interest in seeking a pipeline to Lake Michigan.
The city's diminishing supply of groundwater from a deep
aquifer, and health concerns surrounding levels of cancer-causing
radium in the water, have prompted city officials to pursue
the pipeline. An alternative is to develop a well field
in western Waukesha County and pipe that water to the
The lake proposal is fraught with political problems,
one of which is that the city is considered as being outside
the sub-continental divide, because groundwater flows
west to the Mississippi River and not east to Lake Michigan.
But Waukesha's consultants have said that areas west
of what has been considered the divide - a north-south
line roughly along Sunny Slope Road - are drawing so much
water from the aquifer that Lake Michigan is now recharging
the underground water source, instead of the aquifer naturally
recharging the lake.
Duchniak said he wants to know whether the amendment
will consider the expanded flow of the underground aquifer
in the same way it would use surface flow in determining
what area is within the sub-continental divide.
Another issue is whether Waukesha would need to return
the same amount of water it takes from the lake, which
could be a problem, considering that food processing and
bottling plants use water that is shipped outside the
David Naftzger, executive director for the Council of
Great Lakes Governors, said the governors will hear comments
and questions about the proposal in Chicago.
The state Department of Natural Resources is to host
the West Allis session and four others in Wisconsin on
behalf of the council.
Another meeting of the governors is set for Sept. 20
The council is comprised of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana,
Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario
From the Aug. 31, 2004, editions of the Milwaukee Journal