Waukesha discussing county water commission
Lombardi said city will still seek Lake Michigan water
By Dennis A. Shook
Posted December 1, 2005
WAUKESHA - Is it time for Waukesha County to act in unison
when it comes to its water challenges? Waukesha Mayor
Carol Lombardi believes so and told The Freeman on Tuesday
she is discussing with newly elected Waukesha County Executive
Daniel Vrakas the possibility of forming a county-wide
water commission to that end.
That is happening even as the state official who helped
negotiate the Great Lakes water compact to be signed Dec.
13 in Milwaukee confirmed Tuesday that Waukesha would
still have "a lot of hurdles" to getting Lake
Lombardi said, "I have met with the new executive
and said the county will have a role in the (compact)
process application. But Waukesha is just one of the county
communities interested. So I said I would hope there would
be some kind of county water commission created to oversee
and address these issues."
Lombardi said Waukesha Water Utility Manager Dan Duchniak
and Waukesha County Parks and Land Use Director Dale Shaver
have already been meeting to discuss the county’s role.
While Lombardi said the city would likely not be able
to afford to pay for the return of wastewater to Milwaukee
that would be required in any Lake Michigan water hookup
deal, she said an application would still be made.
Todd Ambs, water division administrator for the state
Department of Natural Resources and the state’s lead compact
negotiator, said the compact would allow for such a bid
"but the bar will be set very high."
The compact does allow for communities in counties straddling
the Great Lakes basin - such as Waukesha County - to apply
for water. But the compact demands that an equivalent
amount of water be sent back by the communities using
Lake Michigan water.
Ambs said Waukesha could return different sources of
water to make an equivalent return, not necessarily the
same exact water. But he added the water would have to
be treated by the county or treatment paid for by the
county through another entity before it could be returned
to Lake Michigan.
Duchniak has said such a return would likely cost "hundreds
of millions of dollars" in creating a piping system.
Lombardi said there is no current plan to promote a capital
program to pay such a cost.
Yet, Waukesha has a pressing problem with too much radium
in its water and has been seeking ways to meet impending
federal requirements to deal with the problem.
"We are looking at all the ways for meeting the
radium standard issue" and not just a Lake Michigan
connection, she said.
Lombardi said the city’s two new municipal wells are
about to come on line. That water will be piped to a reservoir,
where it will be blended with water that has a high radium
content. In that way, the water can meet the federal standards,
which is the city’s most immediate challenge.
But the mayor said the city will continue to look to
drilling other wells to the west as long term solutions
to its water problems.
"We are trying to identify as many potential water
sources as possible for the city," she said.
Ambs said the state will help communities like Waukesha
apply for Lake Michigan water but he said there are still
questions as to how the compact requirements will be enforced
and applied during the application process, which could
take as long as a year. And he added that any one of the
10 signatories to the compact has the power to essentially
veto any request.
Dennis A. Shook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org