The states and provinces of the Great Lakes Regional Body have green-lighted Waukesha’s request for Lake Michigan water — with conditions. Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly expects a final decision on the city’s application for a Lake Michigan water supply will be made later this summer. “We’re looking at the middle of June,” Reilly said.
If Waukesha’s request is granted, the city would become the first U.S. community located entirely outside the Great Lakes drainage basin to receive a diversion of lake water since the Great Lakes Compact became federal law in 2008. Waukesha applied for the diversion after the Wisconsin DNR determined that the city does not have an adequate supply of water fit to drink, because of radium contamination of deep groundwater supplies.
“I appreciate all the hard that’s been done by the Wisconsin DNR to get to this point, but I think it truly shows that the compact itself works,” Reilly said. “The regional body . . . went through this process using the compact itself as their guide, in order to make decisions.”
The mayor of another Wisconsin city has consistently opposed the Waukesha diversion. Racine Mayor John Dickert says the decision will have far-reaching consequences with several other cities that also want Great Lakes water, and that have been waiting to see what happens.