(Chicago) June 21, 2016 – This afternoon the eight Great Lakes states voted to approve Waukesha, Wisconsin’s diversion request. We believe that the conditions adopted by the Compact Council improved Waukesha’s proposal’s compliance with the Great Lakes Compact. We applaud the Great Lakes Governors for agreeing with us that the Waukesha diversion application as submitted failed to meet the standards of the Great Lakes Compact.
While we need to review the details of the final decision, we are encouraged by the additional conditions placed on Waukesha’s diversion application that improved the request. It is also important to note that the water diverted from Lake Michigan to Waukesha will be returned to the Great Lakes basin, resulting in no net loss of water to the lakes as required by the Compact.
We appreciate the seriousness with which members of the Great Lakes Regional Body and Compact Council undertook their responsibility to review Waukesha’s diversion application. While we have always believed that Waukesha has a reasonable water supply alternative, we understand that the Regional Body and Compact Council saw that issue differently.
Today’s vote is not the end of the story. Great Lakes advocates will need to be vigilant in making sure that the city of Waukesha and the State of Wisconsin honor the terms of the agreement. We will be strong watchdogs to ensure that the Great Lakes are protected. We expect that the Compact Council and its members will act promptly if Waukesha and Wisconsin do not meet every requirement imposed by the Council. And, if necessary, we will take action to compel compliance with the Compact Council’s requirements.
Moving forward, we strongly encourage the Regional Body and Compact Council to amend their processes to include improved opportunities for the public to participate in a meaningful and timely way throughout the regional review process no matter where they live.
Jennifer Caddick, Alliance for the Great Lakes, (315) 767-2802
Marc Smith, National Wildlife Federation, (734) 255-5413