By Milwaukee Courier Staff
As we reported Aug. 21, Waukesha is seeking to take water from Lake Michigan because, it claims, it does not have the ability to provide safe drinking water to its residents from its own sources. Waukesha is allowed to apply for this water under the Great Lakes Compact, the federal law passed in 2008, because it straddles the Great Lakes Basin.
Communities such as Waukesha are allowed to apply for this water if they can prove it is an absolute last resort and that no other option will work.
Waukesha has failed to prove this. Their application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is riddled with outdated data, omissions and errors.
Expert after expert has pointed out the many flaws and shortcomings of this application.
They’ve also pointed out the good options Waukesha has for treating their own water, which dozens of communities around Wisconsin are already using to provide their residents with healthy, safe drinking water.
Nevertheless, the DNR is backing this application. They’ve yet to release their formal approval, but at the three public hearings they held the week of August 17th, despite strong public opposition, they made their support abundantly clear.
This isn’t surprising.
The DNR has become one of the most neutered bodies in the state, transformed from what was once a respectable scientific resource to a partisan rubber stamp for the Republican agenda.
It is no surprise they’re pandering to the biggest Republican donor base in the state – the uber wealthy and conservative Waukesha.
As Waukesha developed its plan to take water from Lake Michigan, they were required to propose a system that would return an equal quantity of water to the Lake.
Waukesha’s answer to this problem – dump an equal quantity of treated sewage water into the Root River, a river that is already polluted.
This river runs through the middle of Racine, a community that stands in stark contrast to Waukesha. When you compare census data, it’s like a study in haves and have nots.
The median income of a family in Racine County is $25,000 less than Waukesha County.
Homes in Racine County are worth $121,000 less. Racine has over twice as many people living below the poverty line, and is home to nearly three times as many people of color. It’s no wonder Waukesha thinks they can use Racine as their toilet – they’ve been looking down on the rest of Southeastern Wisconsin for years.
Waukesha has a solution in their own community, but in typical privileged fashion, they want to take from the rest of us.
This application for Great Lakes water is bad for everyone, and a slap in the face of social justice.