GENERAL INQUIRIES: Abby Kuranz, 414-431-0928, [email protected]
Public Opposed to Waukesha’s Lake Michigan Diversion
96% of Written Comments in Opposition to Waukesha’s Proposal
WAUKESHA – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) recently released the more than 3,624 written public comments and 128 verbal testimonies regarding the City of Waukesha’s request to divert Great Lakes water. Of those written comments, 3,523 explicitly oppose or raise serious concerns about Waukesha’s application as it stands, while only 84 explicitly support the application.
A wide range of groups, including regional tribal commissions, international, regional, state and local environmental organizations and Waukesha-area businesses submitted written comments over the 60-day public comment period, which ended August 28, 2015.
Concerns ranged from relatively small edits to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to calls for further analysis of the deep groundwater aquifer, to fully vetted alternatives from experts attempting to find the best solution for supplying Waukesha’s residents with clean drinking water. By far the longest and most detailed comments came from the Compact Implementation Coalition and a group of civil rights organizations including the ACLU and NAACP Milwaukee Chapter.
Individual residents across the Great Lakes region also heavily weighed in, submitting over 300 individual written comments, of which 80% explicitly opposed or raised serious concerns about the application. People asked for increased analysis of economic impacts, consideration of racial justice concerns, and pointed to a lack of public participation throughout Waukesha’s application process. An overwhelming majority of individuals, including many of Waukesha’s own residents, took issue with Waukesha’s approach to the entire application and had major misgivings about the ramifications this application could have for the health and protection of the Great Lakes.
The WDNR will respond to comments regarding its draft EIS the next few months. The WDNR is expected to release its final decision as to whether Waukesha’s application is approvable in late 2015 or early 2016. If found approvable, Waukesha’s application will be forwarded to the Regional Body, which consists of the eight Great Lakes governors and two Canadian premiers, for consideration. The Compact Council, which is made up of only the eight Great Lakes governors, will then either approve or deny the application, taking into account the Regional Body’s findings.
All comments, along with recordings and transcripts of all three hearings, can be found on the DNR’s city of Waukesha Water Diversion Application webpage: