About GWA

Whether you’re hearing about us for the first time or you’ve been following the program for years, here is everything you need to know about the Great Water Alliance.

Just the facts

If you’re unfamiliar with the Great Water Alliance, Waukesha Water Utility’s project delivery team, this quick overview is the perfect way to start.

WHO
The Waukesha Water Utility is leading the charge, through the Great Water Alliance, to implement a new water supply program for Waukesha. The utility will continue to coordinate with governmental agencies at the state and local levels, the citizens of Waukesha and our partner communities, as well as other interested parties.

WHAT
New pipelines will carry fresh water sourced from Lake Michigan to the City of Waukesha, and then return the same amount — in the form of treated, clean water — using the Root River tributary.

WHEN
The Great Water Alliance was effectively born on June 21, 2016, with the unanimous approval of the City of Waukesha’s request to source water from Lake Michigan by the eight governors who make up the Great Lakes Compact Council. Planning and design are currently ongoing, with construction scheduled to begin in 2020 and completion currently slated for 2023.

WHERE
Current plans call for the pipeline to begin at a pumping station in Milwaukee, and travel some 13 miles to Waukesha. A second pipeline will travel roughly 23 miles and deliver treated water from the Clean Water Plant in Waukesha to an outfall point in Franklin that empties into the Root River.

WHY
The City of Waukesha needs a long-term, sustainable alternative to its existing water supply. The aquifer, which has been the City’s primary source of drinking water, has become depleted in Southeast Wisconsin. This is due in large part to a natural layer of shale rock that restricts rainwater and snowmelt from recharging the aquifer, and has resulted in elevated levels of radium and other contaminants.

About Council Approves

Great Lakes Compact Council Approval

As the first community to prove it qualifies for an exception under the Compact’s straddling counties provision, we’re keenly aware of our obligation not only to our neighbors in the area, but to the entire Great Lakes Basin.

We invite you to learn more about this historic approval, and how the standards we’ll be living up to will lead to a brighter water future.

How it Began

About WWU

The Waukesha Water Utility is confident that the Great Water Alliance will become a model for safe and sustainable drinking water projects. It’s a conviction that grows out of the dedication and talent of its team, and a commitment to the idea that public servants are employed, first and foremost, to serve the public.

Learn More

History

With Waukesha’s water supply once again the focus of international attention, history has proven its penchant for coming full-circle.

During the late 19th and early 20th century, people came from across the country to bathe in — and drink in — the curative waters of “Spring City.” In fact, Waukesha was routinely mentioned in the same breath as spa destinations like Evian, Baden-Baden, and Saratoga.

Now, the city is making a splash again, as it embarks upon a bold initiative to establish a safe and sustainable new water supply for its citizens.

Learn More

Learn the facts. Get the answers.

We’d like to address some of the common questions and misperceptions that have arisen since Lake Michigan was identified as the only sustainable long-term water supply for Waukesha.

Myth vs. Fact
FAQs

Program
Timeline

Seven public open houses held for sharing program information and receiving community input.

Three proposed water supply and return flow routes were determined and studied.

Preferred return flow route identified and further investigations conducted.

Historic agreement signed between the City of Waukesha and City of Milwaukee as the water supplier.

Preliminary design starts.

Four public open houses held for dispensing program information and receiving community input.

Preferred water supply route identified and further investigations began.

Preliminary design completed and detailed design started.

Two public open houses will be held for dispensing program information, receiving community input.

Final water supply and return pipeline routes will be determined.

Permits will be secured.

Prequalification process complete for general and first-tier subcontractors.

Construction contracts will be awarded to build pipelines and the facilities.

Public open houses will be held for dispensing program information, receiving community input.

Construction will break ground.

Public open houses will be held for dispensing program information, receiving community input.

Construction in full swing.

Start-up and testing of pipelines and pumping stations will be conducted.

Official transition to Lake Michigan water will occur.

Water supply and return flow quality will be monitored and continue thereafter.

Final work complete, new safe and sustainable water supply provided to City of Waukesha. History made.

Program
Future Timeline

2017

Seven public open houses held for sharing program information and receiving community input.

Three proposed water supply and return flow routes were determined and studied.

Preferred return flow route identified and further investigations conducted.

Historic agreement signed between the City of Waukesha and City of Milwaukee as the water supplier.

Preliminary design starts.

2018

Four public open houses held for dispensing program information and receiving community input.

Preferred water supply route identified and further investigations began.

Preliminary design completed and detailed design started.

2019

Final water supply and return pipeline routes will be determined.

Permits will be secured.

Construction contracts will be awarded to build the pipelines.

Public open houses will be held for dispensing program information, receiving community input.

2020

Construction contracts will be awarded to build the facilities.

Public open houses will be held for dispensing program information, receiving community input.

Construction will break ground.

2021-2023

Public open houses will be held for dispensing program information, receiving community input.

Construction in full swing.

Start-up and testing of pipelines and pumping stations will be conducted.

Official transition to Lake Michigan water will occur.

Water supply and return flow quality will be monitored and continue thereafter.

2023

Final work complete, new safe and sustainable water supply provided to City of Waukesha.

History made.