Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak told the Common Council earlier this year the city needed to stay on schedule in its quest for Great Lakes water with a 2018 deadline to have radium-compliant water looming.
However, the timeline is now being adjusted.
He said the city planned to submit its final application to the state's Department of Natural Resources in July. However, after making revisions and having a legal team take a deeper look at the application, the city just sent out its final application Monday.
The final application includes new preferences among previously identified alternatives for a water supplier and the route to return water to the Great Lakes.
"The application includes thorough analysis of the environmental and public health impacts of various water supply alternatives we studied," Duchniak said. "The revised application compiles our 2010 application with additional information that was requested by the DNR or that addressed new regulations.
"We also updated our water conservation plan and water demand forecasts."
The DNR will review the environmental impact statement (EIS) and allow 45 days to accept comments on it. A final EIS was initially scheduled for early January before the application was set to be submitted to the regional body for consideration.
How the three-month delay impacts the process remains to be seen.
"We thought we were ready in July but legal took time to go through it and put what they wanted in there," Duchniak said. "We're behind by a little bit, but we'll work with the DNR to try to make it up.
"At this point I don't know (how it will impact the schedule)."
In a news release sent Monday, Duchniak said the DNR will likely issue a draft EIS early next year, along with its proposed decision on the application. In Duchniak's original timeline, he hoped the DNR would issue a draft EIS in October.
The city will hold informational meetings for the public in November on the revised application in Waukesha, Oak Creek, Racine and Milwaukee.
These cities are included because Waukesha entered into an agreement last fall with the City of Oak Creek in its connection for Lake Michigan water. Connecting with the City of Racine had also been considered as was Milwaukee. There were negotiations with Racine last year, but talks with Milwaukee never materialized.
The revised proposal includes a change in Waukesha's preferred route for returning water to the Great Lakes after use. The preference is to return water via the Root River, a tributary that flows to Lake Michigan. The Root River was among the alternatives included in Waukesha's original application, but a discharge to Underwood Creek in Milwaukee County was the preferred return flow route at the time.
"The Root is not a new alternative, but it now is our preferred alternative," Duchniak said. "We are proposing the Root River as our preferred return flow route because of the environmental benefits to the river and fishery. In addition, studies to determine allocations of the new phosphorus limits for Underwood Creek and the Menomonee River were started after the May 2010 application was submitted."
Duchniak added because results of the studies may not be known for a long time, the Underwood Creek was not a viable solution.
The revised application also reflects a change in a preferred water supplier. The original application included Milwaukee as the preferred supplier with Oak Creek and Racine as alternatives.
But Duchniak notes in his release, "Milwaukee refused to negotiate to serve the entire service area that Waukesha is required to serve under Wisconsin's new water supply planning law."
"Waukesha has gone to great lengths to create a model application that promotes the environment, promotes public health and returns every drop of water back to the lake," said Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi. "In working with Waukesha, Oak Creek has created a win-win scenario that is great for our region and promotes efficiency in local government, goals that can be supported by taxpayers regardless of what state they live in."
Waukesha also adjusted its water demand forecasts. It is estimated that it will need 10.1 million gallons per day (mgd), and 16.7 mgd on a peak demand day, down from previous estimates of 10.9 and 18.5 mgd, respectively.
The revised application consists of five volumes, including a 75-page summary, Waukesha's water supply service area plan, its water conservation plan, the return flow plan and an environmental report that analyzes the impacts of various water supply alternatives. The summary volume is available at www.ci.waukesha.wi.us/web/guest/982.
Completing the revision of the application took time for several reasons, Duchniak said.
"The thoroughness of the DNR's review was a factor, along with the two years it took Town of Waukesha officials to decide to be included in the city's water supply service area that was recommended by regional planners," he said. "Waukesha's utility is also the first in the state to prepare a comprehensive water conservation plan and water supply service plan to new state requirements."
Waukesha is 1.5 miles outside the Great Lakes Basin. And under the Great Lakes Compact, its request requires the approval of the governors of the eight Great Lakes states, who will also consider input from the Great Lakes provinces in Canada.
Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima said three-and-a half years after initially submitting the water application to the DNR, he is pleased the process is taking the next step.
"Like most of the citizens of Waukesha, I opposed purchasing water from Milwaukee and support purchasing water from Oak Creek," he said. "I am delighted, after having met with the leaders of Oak Creek and signed the Letter of Intent to purchase water from Oak Creek back in November of 2012, that Waukesha's application for clean and sustainable water from Oak Creek appears to be complete and moving forward."
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