A redrawn map of the service area as part of a proposal to divert Lake Michigan water to Waukesha could make the city's request more palatable to officials from the Great Lakes states that must rule on the issue.
The new map — which excludes the towns of Delafield and Genesee and most of the town of Waukesha from the service area — was created April 27, a few days after Great Lakes Regional Body officials met in Chicago to the discuss the service area and Waukesha's original request to divert up to 10.1 million gallons of lake water per day by 2050.
The water diversion application was filed by the city, which is outside the Great Lakes Basin, in an attempt to meet its long-term water needs and comply with radium restrictions. Studies have indicated continued use of Waukesha's current deep well water supply is unsustainable.
The city's request, the first of its kind, for lake water is allowed under a provision of the Great Lakes Compact. A state DNR study determined last summer, after years of review, that Waukesha's application complies with the compact.
Reducing the draw
With the revised service area, city officials are now requesting to divert up to 8.76 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan per day instead of the original 10.1 million gallons. The water would flow to the city through the Oak Creek Water Utility and 100 percent of it would be returned to the lake via the Root River, according to the proposal.
The new service area map includes the entire city of Waukesha and properties it currently serves in the town of Waukesha — called 'town islands' — and, under a border agreement, a small portion of the city of Pewaukee. The area accounts for about 95.6 percent of total water demand in the proposed area.
Discussions among the regional body officials in Chicago indicated the originally proposed service area was too large. However, the proposed changes to the water service area could conflict with state law requiring those areas to be consistent with sewer service areas.
Great Lakes officials, which include representatives from the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces, are scheduled to meet next week, May 10-11, for a second round of discussion on the revised diversion proposal.
A vote on the proposal itself, from the eight Great Lakes states governors, or their representatives, is scheduled for June 13 in Chicago. The Canadian premiers can voice their opinions of the application but cannot vote on it.
The vote must be unanimous for approval to be granted.
If the application is approved, Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak has said that the city's water rates would at the minimum double and likely triple in coming years.