The Great Water Alliance will deliver a sustainable alternative to the City of Waukesha’s existing water supply. This is great news for Waukesha customers who are currently dependent on a groundwater aquifer that is depleted and contaminated. The solution requires investment to fund needed infrastructure and improvements, however, and the City is working with experts and partners to seek funding, reduce costs where possible, and minimize impacts to ratepayers.
Waukesha’s deep aquifer, its primary source of drinking water, has become depleted, due in large part to a natural layer of shale rock that restricts rainwater and snowmelt from replenishing the aquifer. The depleted aquifer also contains elevated levels of radium and other natural contaminants.
The solution, approved after years of effort by Waukesha leaders, requires switching from the City’s current 10 wells to a Lake Michigan water supply. This major undertaking requires construction of a water pipeline that will carry Lake Michigan water to Waukesha. In addition, as required under the Great Lakes Compact, Waukesha is also investing in a pipeline to return clean, treated water via the Root River, a Lake Michigan tributary. The investment will result in residents having a sustainable system providing a high-quality water supply for generations.
As noted by the Water Environment Federation, “Few people realize what it takes to treat and deliver drinking water every day or how wastewater is cleaned so that it can be safely reused or returned to the environment. It’s the thread that weaves together our daily lives. It keeps our communities healthy, our cities running, and our economies growing. Water is a cup of coffee, the produce aisle, better production, increased exports, and greater American strength. While essential, water infrastructure is largely invisible.”
Understandably, then, it is challenging for communities to embrace the idea that significant investment is required to ensure clean, safe water, including transporting, storing, treating, distributing, pumping, and delivering it. The City of Waukesha is committed to making sure residents and customers understand what it will take between now and 2023 to deliver an alternative water supply to the City. And, the City is committed to doing it in ways that will minimize impacts to residents and businesses.