Monday, November 30, 2020
Construction is about to begin on pipelines that will bring Lake Michigan water to over 70,000 people in Waukesha, and then return clean water back to the Great Lakes Basin. A groundbreaking event was held in Milwaukee today to share the news about this historic project.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said, “Today, we are happy to announce the start of the construction phase of our Great Water Alliance project – a project which will ensure sustainable drinking water in Waukesha for generations to come.”

The project will bring drinking water to the Waukesha Water Utility from the Milwaukee Water Works, then return treated water back to the Root River, a Lake Michigan tributary. In keeping with its approval under the Great Lakes Compact, Waukesha will return back to the Great Lakes Basin approximately the same volume of water that it takes out.

Complete Route Map - Press Release

Route map for both Great Water Alliance pipelines: the water supply line from Milwaukee to Waukesha and the return flow line from Waukesha to Franklin

The groundbreaking was held at the corner of West Oklahoma Avenue and South 76th Street in Milwaukee, where a new pumping station will be built. From that station, a 13-mile water supply pipeline will be constructed through West Allis, Greenfield and New Berlin to Waukesha. A 23-mile return flow line will begin at the Clean Water Plant in Waukesha and be built through New Berlin and Muskego, before ending at a new outfall facility in Franklin.

Construction will occur in phases along the route until completion in 2023. Mayor Reilly thanked the many municipal officials along the route for their cooperation on the major construction project.

Mayors Reilly and Barrett said the agreement they signed in 2017 shows how regional cooperation can be mutually beneficial. Receiving treated water from the Milwaukee Water Works will save the Waukesha Water Utility money compared to other suppliers, and the project will provide Milwaukee with a new source of revenue from Waukesha. Both mayors discussed the difficult and complicated approval process under the Great Lakes Compact.

Reilly said, “This shows that we can make southeast Wisconsin better if we can continue to find ways to work together.” Reilly continued, “Our project was intensely scrutinized, but all that attention and analysis resulted in unanimous agreement by the Great Lakes states and provinces. The governors and premiers agreed with us about what the science shows – that this project is the only reasonable alternative for Waukesha’s water supply.”

Waukesha Common Council President Cassie Rodriguez spoke of the importance of finding a new water supply to replace the depleted groundwater, while Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee Alderman Mark Borkowski talked about choosing the right location for the new pumping station.

Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak emphasized Waukesha’s efforts to educate the public about the details of the project. “I would recommend going to our website: You can look at an interactive route map, sign up for our newsletter, and find out what’s going on In Your Area,” he said, “We are holding virtual open houses to keep people along the route informed. Effective communication with the public will be key to this project’s success.”

Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Karen Dettmer explained that although the pipeline construction is starting now in Waukesha, building the pumping station in Milwaukee won’t begin until later in 2021. She added that the new station will replace an existing location just a block away.

Water Pumping Station - Press Release

Diagram of the Water Pumping Station to be built on the southeast corner of W. Oklahoma Avenue and S. 76th Street

You can access more information and download images from the Great Water Alliance to use in your articles by visiting our online Media Kit. Accredited media may submit a special request for information or ask to set up an interview.

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