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Great Lakes officials scale back Waukesha water diversion plan

Apr 24, 2016

Credit Ken Bosma / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Representatives from the Great Lakes and Canada met last week to consider a Wisconsin city's request to pump water from Lake Michigan.

The groundwater in Waukesha is contaminated with radium, so the city wants to draw about 10 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan daily.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body came up with a tentative plan that would reduce the number of communities in a future water service area.

Peter Annin with the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College says right now, it looks likely Waukesha will get "some kind of approval."

But, he says, nothing is final.

"All it takes is one [Great Lakes] governor to veto the application, but there's no sense at this stage that Waukesha's application is going to be vetoed. But you never know until these documents go back to the governor's offices, and everyone pours over them as we head to the final stretch," Annin said.

The "final stretch" includes another meeting of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body in May.

They'll make a recommendation to the eight Great Lakes governors, who will sit down to ultimately decide the matter in June.

The final decision must be unanimous. Under the 2008 Great Lakes Compact, a city can’t divert Great Lakes water without the permission of all eight of the region’s governors.