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Waukesha

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A group representing mayors and cities in the Great Lakes region has dropped its fight against letting Waukesha, Wisconsin, draw water from Lake Michigan.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative says it has reached a settlement with a council representing the region's eight states. The council last year granted Waukesha permission to tap the lake, which ordinarily would be prohibited because the city is outside the watershed boundary.

Waukesha needs a new water source because its groundwater is contaminated with radium.

Lake Michigan
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Representatives from the eight Great Lakes states have reaffirmed approval of Waukesha, Wisconsin's request to switch its own contaminated water supply to Lake Michigan.

The 2008 Great Lakes Compact allows such a diversion if a city is at least partly within the watershed of one of the lakes. 

Last summer, Great Lakes governors voted unanimously to allow Waukesha to draw Lake Michigan water, but the decision was appealed by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

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A group of cities near the Great Lakes is appealing a decision to let Waukesha, Wisconsin draw water directly from Lake Michigan. 

Waukesha asked to divert water from Lake Michigan because its own water source is contaminated. 

Great Lakes governors approved the diversion, but many Great Lakes mayors disagree. 

A group of 120 of them – members of The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative – is appealing. 

The city of Waukesha worked on their proposal for more than five years.
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The governors of the eight states bordering the Great Lakes have said "yes" to Waukesha.

The Wisconsin city will be allowed to draw up to 8.2 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan each day. The city made the request because its groundwater source is contaminated with radium.

This is the first big test of the Great Lakes Compact which was formed by the Great Lakes states eight years ago to keep the lakes' water from being diverted by thirsty cities and states outside of the Great Lakes Basin.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about an approved plan for Waukesha, Wisconsin to divert water from Lake Michigan, Enbridge Energy's announcement that it will spend $7 million on new equipment to clean up oil spills, and the growing use of body cameras in police departments.

In full disclosure, Enbridge Energy is a financial supporter of Michigan Radio.


Only 17 miles from Lake Michigan's shore, Waukesha, Wis. wants to replace its contaminated drinking water with water from the lake.
flickr user Rachel Kramer / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

All eight of the governors of states in the Great Lakes Compact voted Tuesday to approve Waukesha, Wisconsin's application to divert water from Lake Michigan.

The city of Waukesha is 17 miles from the lake, straddling a county that is within the lake's water basin.

That made the city technically eligible to apply for a diversion under the compact, to replace its own water, which is contaminated with radium.

"What this shows is it is not easy to get a diversion of Great Lakes water," said Marc Smith of the National Wildlife Federation.

map of michigan
Screencap from Google Maps / Google / Google

The city of Waukesha, Wisconsin will likely find out Tuesday if it can draw water from the Great Lakes to replace its own contaminated water.

Governors from eight Great Lakes states are expected to vote on the request. Any of the states can veto the diversion. Waukesha is the first community to request a diversion since the adoption of the Great Lakes Compact in 2008.

Environmental groups and some elected officials objected to the diversion, saying it could set a bad precedent.

Only 17 miles from Lake Michigan's shore, Waukesha, Wis. wants to replace its contaminated drinking water with water from the lake.
flickr user Rachel Kramer / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Eleven of Michigan's 14 members of Congress are urging Governor Snyder – and the other Great Lakes governors – to deny a request from Waukesha, Wisconsin to divert water from Lake Michigan.

The city's ground water is contaminated with radium, which can cause cancer.

But 11 Michigan congressional reps signed a letter opposing the city's request, including U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn).

map of michigan
Screencap from Google Maps / Google / Google

Waukesha, Wisconsin got some good news today: the city wants to build a pipeline to pump millions of gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan, because its own groundwater is contaminated with radium (which can cause cancer.)

And that plan just got preliminary approval from a regional body of Great Lakes states.

Technically, the vote just finds that the Waukesha’s plan meets the “exception standard” for cities outside the Great Lakes basin to use the water.

Screencap from Google Maps / Google

The request of Waukesha, Wisconsin to divert water from the Great Lakes should be rejected, according to a resolution introduced today in the Michigan Senate.

The resolution says Waukesha's request does not meet some of the requirements set by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact for permitting a water diversion.

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.

Screencap from Google Maps / Google

The city of Waukesha, Wisconsin has a contamination problem in its aquifer, and the federal government has ordered the city to find a new source of drinking water by 2018.

Waukesha is just a mile and a half outside the Lake Michigan watershed, so tapping Great Lakes water seems like the most obvious solution to the city’s problem.

Photo courtesy of Central Michigan Life

The two reasons: 1) the process of moving water that far, and that high, wouldn't make economic sense; 2) Great Lakes water is locked down politically.

The ongoing drought in California has hit its fourth year.