Since 1886,

the Waukesha Water Utility has taken on the responsibility of providing residents with clean water.

From the very beginning, our history was shaped by people who were focused on the future. They embraced technological progress. They anticipated the city’s growth and the ever-increasing demand for water that comes with it. And they established a structure designed to keep politics out of the process.

Waukesha has long been a responsible steward of our most vital natural resource, and has demonstrated a deep respect for the environment with state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facilities.

For most of the city’s existence, Waukesha’s water supply came from deep wells that reached down to a large aquifer that extends from southeastern Wisconsin to northeastern Illinois. But a layer of shale between the surface and the water makes this particular aquifer slow to replenish, and over time it has become depleted.

The short story: Waukesha needs a new and sustainable water source.

The Waukesha Water Utility has spearheaded the effort to find that new source, and now through the Great Water Alliance, we’ll continue the mission of delivering the water Waukesha needs, in the most environmentally sound way possible.

Program
Background
Timeline

1976

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes interim regulations that establish a 5 picocuries* per liter (pCi/L) limit for radium in public drinking water systems.

* A picocurie (pCi) is one-trillionth of a curie. The curie (Ci) is a measurement of radioactivity.

Late 1980s

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issues two violations of the EPA’s radium standard of 5 pCi/L. Waukesha Water Utility (WWU) works to develop a strategy to deal with the long-term impacts of the new radium standards.

Late 1990s

Waukesha sampling shows declining groundwater levels are leading to higher concentrations of total dissolved solids and radium.

Dec 2000

The EPA issues the final radionuclides rule retaining the 1976 standards for radium at 5 pCi/L.

March 2002

Due to the decline of Waukesha’s primary deep aquifer water supply, as well as radium contamination, the Future Water Supply study examines multiple water supply alternatives and recommends that Waukesha begin efforts to implement a new water supply.

Dec 2003

The City of Waukesha enters into a consent order with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Waukesha County Circuit Court to achieve phased-in compliance with new radium standards.

2008

Congress adopts the Great Lakes Compact and President George W. Bush signs it into law, following adoption by the eight Great Lakes states and prior agreement by two Canadian provinces. The Compact allows Waukesha to apply to use and return Great Lakes water.

April 2010

After years of study and scores of public meetings, the City of Waukesha submits a diversion application for a new water supply to the DNR for review. Among the 14 examined alternatives, Lake Michigan water is determined to be the only sustainable source that protects both the environment and public health.

Dec 2010

SEWRPC adopts a Regional Water Supply Plan that includes the recommendation that Waukesha apply for Great Lakes water.

July 2011

The DNR consults with Native American Tribes and holds three informational meetings with the general public to introduce the review process and receive comments on scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will be developed as a result of Waukesha’s application.

Oct 2013

Waukesha submits a revised five-volume Application which reduces its Application request to 10.1 million gallons per day (MGD) and identifies Oak Creek as the preferred water supplier. After further analysis requested by the DNR, Waukesha changes the return flow route to the Root River, providing further environmental benefits.

Fall 2013

Waukesha holds informational meetings in Oak Creek, Racine, Milwaukee, and Waukesha on the updates to the Waukesha application. The DNR accepts public comments on the revised application.

2013–2015

Waukesha submits 27 additional technical memoranda to the DNR in order to provide additional information and clarification.

Aug 2015

The DNR holds three public hearings on its draft technical review and draft EIS.

Jan 2016

The DNR finds that Waukesha’s proposal meets the Compact criteria and forwards the application to the Great Lakes states and provinces for regional review.

June 2016

After extensive public input, the eight Great Lakes governors, meeting as the Compact Council, unanimously approve the Waukesha Application. They find that Lake Michigan is Waukesha’s only reasonable water supply alternative. Conditions include a smaller water supply service area, an average day water supply limit of 8.2 million gallons per day and the return of approximately 100% of the volume of water used.

Fall 2016

Waukesha begins design for the new water supply system.

March 2017

The new water supply program officially begins operating as the Great Water Alliance and unveils a robust new website of public information at greatwateralliance.com, along with open houses and other public outreach.

2020

Projected start of pipeline construction.

2022-2023

Projected completion and transition to new water supply. In all, after the 2016 Compact Council unanimous approval, the Great Water Alliance will take about six years of permitting, design and construction before coming into service.

Program Background Timeline

1976

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes interim regulations that establish a 5 picocuries* per liter (pCi/L) limit for radium in public drinking water systems.

* A picocurie (pCi) is one-trillionth of a curie. The curie (Ci) is a measurement of radioactivity.

Late 1980s

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issues two violations of the EPA’s radium standard of 5 pCi/L. Waukesha Water Utility (WWU) works to develop a strategy to deal with the long-term impacts of the new radium standards.

Late 1990s

Waukesha sampling shows declining groundwater levels are leading to higher concentrations of total dissolved solids and radium.

Dec 2000

The EPA issues the final radionuclides rule retaining the 1976 standards for radium at 5 pCi/L.

March 2002

Due to the decline of Waukesha’s primary deep aquifer water supply, as well as radium contamination, the Future Water Supply study examines multiple water supply alternatives and recommends that Waukesha begin efforts to implement a new water supply.

Dec 2003

The City of Waukesha enters into a consent order with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Waukesha County Circuit Court to achieve phased-in compliance with new radium standards.

2008

Congress adopts the Great Lakes Compact and President George W. Bush signs it into law, following adoption by the eight Great Lakes states and prior agreement by two Canadian provinces. The Compact allows Waukesha to apply to use and return Great Lakes water.

April 2010

After years of study and scores of public meetings, the City of Waukesha submits a diversion application for a new water supply to the DNR for review. Among the 14 examined alternatives, Lake Michigan water is determined to be the only sustainable source that protects both the environment and public health.

Dec 2010

SEWRPC adopts a Regional Water Supply Plan that includes the recommendation that Waukesha apply for Great Lakes water.

July 2011

The DNR consults with Native American Tribes and holds three informational meetings with the general public to introduce the review process and receive comments on scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will be developed as a result of Waukesha’s application.

Oct 2013

Waukesha submits a revised five-volume Application which reduces its Application request to 10.1 million gallons per day (MGD) and identifies Oak Creek as the preferred water supplier. After further analysis requested by the DNR, Waukesha changes the return flow route to the Root River, providing further environmental benefits.

Fall 2013

Waukesha holds informational meetings in Oak Creek, Racine, Milwaukee, and Waukesha on the updates to the Waukesha application. The DNR accepts public comments on the revised application.

2013–2015

Waukesha submits 27 additional technical memoranda to the DNR in order to provide additional information and clarification.

Aug 2015

The DNR holds three public hearings on its draft technical review and draft EIS.

Jan 2016

The DNR finds that Waukesha’s proposal meets the Compact criteria and forwards the application to the Great Lakes states and provinces for regional review.

June 2016

After extensive public input, the eight Great Lakes governors, meeting as the Compact Council, unanimously approve the Waukesha Application. They find that Lake Michigan is Waukesha’s only reasonable water supply alternative. Conditions include a smaller water supply service area, an average day water supply limit of 8.2 million gallons per day and the return of approximately 100% of the volume of water used.

Fall 2016

Waukesha begins design for the new water supply system.

March 2017

The new water supply program officially begins operating as the Great Water Alliance and unveils a robust new website of public information at greatwateralliance.com, along with open houses and other public outreach.

2020

Projected start of pipeline construction.

2022-2023

Projected completion and transition to new water supply. In all, after the 2016 Compact Council unanimous approval, the Great Water Alliance will take about six years of permitting, design and construction before coming into service.

Head to the WWU website for more information regarding the Utility.

Waukesha Water Utility