Great Lakes Compact Council

The Great Water Alliance began with a thorough investigation by the Great Lakes Compact Council, which unanimously approved Waukesha’s request to use, treat, and return Great Lakes water. Here you’ll find the initial application, as well as other documents and supplemental information pertaining to the international, multi-year process.

The exception, not the rule.

Any notion that allowing Waukesha to borrow and return Great Lakes water will open the floodgates to other communities suddenly pulling water from the lakes is unfounded. Because of our unique location and circumstances, Waukesha is one of a few communities that fall within the exceptions provided under the Great Lakes Compact.

Our agreement under the Compact contains very specific terms, conditions and requirements.

02/28/17 Oral Argument Scheduled March 20, 2017 Download
02/06/17 Cities Initiative Reply filed Download
01/23/17 City of Waukesha Response to Cities Initiative filed Download
12/23/16 Briefing Schedule and Procedures Published Download
12/19/16 Supplemental Written Statement Submitted by Great lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Download
12/19/16 Compact Council grants Cities Initiative extension to file brief no later than December 19, 2016 Download
10/19/16 Compact Council directs Cities Initiative to submit brief within 45 days in support of its Request for Hearing. Download
09/16/16 Cities Initiative submits written statement to Compact Council within 90 days of issuance of Final Decision. Download
08/30/16 Response letter sent from Compact Council to Cities Initiative acknowledging receipt of Request for Hearing within 90 days of issuance of Final Decision Download
08/19/16 Request for Hearing submitted by Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (“Cities Initiative”) less than 90 days after Compact Council Final Decision Issued Download
06/21/16 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council’s (“Compact Council”) Final Decision on Waukesha Diversion Application Issued Download

Waukesha Water Utility’s Application for Great Lakes Water (October 2013) is the culmination of more than a decade of research. The application consists of five volumes and contains thousands of pages. We know this is a lot of material to absorb, so if at any time you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will put you in touch with a subject matter expert.


VOL. 01 Application Summary Download
VOL. 02 Water Supply Service Area Plan Download
VOL. 03 Water Conservation Plan Download
VOL. 04 Water Return Flow Plan Download
VOL. 05 Environmental Report for Water Supply Alternatives Download


City of Waukesha Environmental Report Appendix Download

Environmental Report

03/10/15 MMSD Alternative 4 Download
03/06/15 MMSD Alternative 4 Cost Estimates Download
02/20/15 Pipeline Wetland Crossings Download
02/20/15 Supplemental Ecological Data and Impact Assessment Download
02/19/15 Energy Use and Air Emissions Download
02/12/15 No Action Alternative Summary Download
02/10/15 Lake Michigan Water Quality Download
01/15/15 Pipeline Surface Water Crossings Download
12/12/14 Preferred Project Wetland Map Download

Return Flow

04/02/15 DNR Letter Waukesha Return Flow Improvement to Root River Phosphorus Water Quality Download
03/23/15 Root River Return Flow Hydraulic Change Memo Oct 2013 Appendix K Amendment Download
02/18/15 Oak Creek Diret Lake Michigan Return Cost Alt 2A Download
12/20/14 Antidegradation Evaluation for the City of Waukesha Download
12/19/14 USGS 7Q10 Calculation Letter Download
04/25/14 Return Flow Design and Construction Preliminary Draft Schedule Download

Water Conservation

02/11/14 Response to Letter NR 852 Compliance Download
12/13/13 WDNR Letter Compliance with NR 852 Download

Water Supply

04/28/14 Public Health and Environmental Information Download
04/18/14 Update to Memo Attachment D Download
03/31/14 Update to Memo Attachment D Download
03/24/14 Response to WNDR Comments Memo Low Water Demand Download
02/02/14 Changes to Water Supply Infrastructure and Environmental Impacts with a Hypothetical Low Water Demand Download
12/03/13 WDNR Letter Water Demand Estimates Download
02/20/13 Response to WDNR Letter 2013 12 03 Water Demand Estimates Download

A lot of important work and correspondence supports the Application. Reading this material may help you place the Application into context. If at any time you have questions about what you have read, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will put you in touch with a subject matter expert.

Application Supporting Documents

08/30/13 Report RJN Ground Water Modeling Download
07/26/13 Tables RJN Ground Water Modeling Download
07/26/13 Report RJN Ground Water Modeling Download
02/25/13 Letter from DNR Secretary Service Area Download
12/16/12 Memo from DNR Root River Return Download
08/02/12 Application for Lake Michigan Water Supply Download
08/02/12 Letter from DNR Secretary Service Area Download
02/01/12 Environmental Report Superseded in 2013 Download
01/05/11 Water Supply Alternative Download
12/07/10 SEWRPC Report 52, Water Supply Plan for SE WI Part 2 Download
12/07/10 SEWRPC Report 52, Water Supply Plan for SE WI Part 1 Download
10/18/10 Frequently Asked Questions Download
09/07/10 Capital Cost Estimates Download
06/08/10 Comparison of April and May Drafts Download
05/20/10 Application Superseded in 2013 Download
04/08/10 Application Draft Approved by Common Council Download
02/18/10 Comments on DNR EIS Scoping Request Download
07/23/09 SEH Underwood Creek Effluent Return Evaluation Download
07/01/09 Water Service Area Map Download
06/03/09 Questions Regarding Potential Application Download
01/01/09 Great Lakes Water Supply Brochure Download
12/23/08 SEWRPC Defines Water Services Area Download
03/01/02 Future Water Supply Study Download

Waukesha Water Utility wants you to understand why it is important for our community to secure a Lake Michigan water supply. We have presented material in each of the City’s 15 Council Districts and have held numerous open houses in Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, Oak Creek, Wauwatosa, Brookfield, and Pewaukee. If you have been unable to attend one the meetings, you can still stay on top of things. You will find copies of slides and recorded presentations below. As always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

07/07/15 Waukesha Common Council Meeting Download
11/14/13 Application Updated Download
09/09/13 Great Lakes Commission Annual Meeting Download
03/01/12 Aldermanic Districts Download
07/27/10 Application Common Council Briefing Download
10/12/09 Preliminary Application Public Meeting Download
01/13/09 Peter Annin History of Great Lakes Water Download
01/13/09 DNR Presents Application Process Download

Fact sheet

Understand the key findings from the unanimous approval of Waukesha’s proposal to use and return Lake Michigan water under the Great Lakes Compact instead of its current groundwater supply.

From 14 Alternatives
down to one obvious choice.

The process of identifying a sustainable water source for the City of Waukesha began over a decade ago, and included a thorough investigation of more than a dozen options. Ultimately, the eight governors of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact Council unanimously approved Waukesha’s proposal to use and return Lake Michigan water under the Great Lakes Compact.

The key findings of the approval make it obvious why Lake Michigan was the wisest choice, both for the citizens of Waukesha and the Great Lakes Basin:

“Approximately 100% of the volume withdrawn from the Basin will be returned via flow through the Root River, a tributary of the Basin. This effectively results in no net loss of water volume to the Basin.

“The deep aquifer groundwater supply is hydrologically connected to waters of the Basin. Continued use of that aquifer draws groundwater away from the Basin” without being returned.

“None of the evaluated alternatives were found to be reliable sources for a long-term, dependable, and sustainable public water supply and, therefore, the Applicant is without a reasonable water supply alternative” to Lake Michigan water.

“Approving a diversion of Great Lakes water with return flow will result in a net increase of water in the Lake Michigan watershed.

“The Applicant’s deep aquifer wells draw from an aquifer that is part of a regional aquifer system where withdrawals have exceeded the natural recharge rate.

“The Applicant’s wells in the deep aquifer are in a confined aquifer which restricts recharge and contributes to groundwater decline.

“The Applicant’s deep aquifer wells also have total combined radium … concentrations that are above the Safe Drinking Water Act standard.

Approval will “eliminate the introduction of radium into the environment.

“The groundwater depletion, along with the radium concentration issue, demonstrates that the deep aquifer is not a sustainable or safe source of water for the people served by the Applicant.

“The proposed Exception cannot be reasonably avoided through the efficient use and conservation of existing water supplies and the Exception will be implemented to incorporate environmentally sound and economically feasible water conservation measures to minimize water withdrawals.”

The return flow will benefit a Basin tributary, the Root River…Increased flow will result in an improvement of the fishery and benefits to the Basin salmonid egg collection facility located downstream on the Root River.”

Waukesha must monitor the Root River “in order to adapt future return flow to minimize potential adverse impacts or maximize potential benefits.”

“The Applicant must implement a comprehensive pharmaceutical and personal care products recycling program and continually use the best available methods to encourage the further reduction of such products into the wastewater as recommended by the Originating Party.”

Waukesha’s “high quality” wastewater treatment includes “removal of chemical phosphorus, suspended solids and associated contaminants, as well as organic materials; tertiary filtration; and, ultraviolet light disinfection. The proposed phosphorus permit limits are well below the water quality standard for the Root River and are on an order of magnitude lower than many existing dischargers to the Basin.

Learn the facts. Get the answers.

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