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.
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.
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
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.
Get updates sent right to your inbox
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.
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.”