Concerns raised with application to divert more water from Great Lakes

Concerns raised with application to divert more water from Great Lakes

MANITOULIN—A representative of Restore Our Water International (ROWI) has raised concerns with a proposal for Waukeshaw, Wisconsin to be able to divert water from the Great Lakes. “They have to get approval with other government signatures, but it looks as if Waukeshaw is going to be able to divert water, which is a big concern,” said Mary Muter of ROWI, after the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) annual meeting last week. Ms. Muter said at the GLC meeting, “Debbie Lee of the United States Army Corps of Engineers admitted after many questions posed by the executive director of the GLC that the USACE has the authority to put in compensation structures (that would limit the amount of water taken and diverted from the Great Lakes through the St. Clair River) and are awaiting the go ahead from the US State Department. They need $3 million to do the redrawing of the 1972 compensation designs (which had been approved by both the US and Canadian federal governments).” “There were two other significant things that came up at the meeting,” said Ms. Muter. “On the Waukeshaw proposal, a location which is not far from Milwaukee and is just outside the Great Lakes watershed, they are in the final stages of applying to divert water in the area. This would be precedent setting because it would be the first diversion allowed on the Great Lakes (and from an outside watershed) and although they guarantee the water would be returned, we all know it will not all be returned.” “I asked questions as to how many other communities in Wisconsin would then be able to ask for the same allowance and was told 30 percent,” said Ms. Muter. “This would mean there could be even further impacts on water levels. There would be big interest from other areas in not only Wisconsin, but Michigan and New York State to do the same.”

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  1. ROWI is rightly concerned about levels in the Great Lakes and the impacts of dredging.

    Unfortunately, it is hurting its credibility by its uninformed statements about Waukesha, Wisconsin.

    Waukesha’s proposal should be evaluated fairly and scientifically, not by completely unsubstantiated claims that “we all know” Waukesha will not return all the water. The volume of return flow is easy to regulate and monitor.

    But, just as importantly, there will be no impact on lake levels, regardless. Waukesha would withdraw 1/1,000,000 of 1% of Great Lakes water. It will then put it back. Zero impact.

    Waukesha is one of two areas in Wisconsin designated as Groundwater Management Ares because of the major drawdowns of groundwater. (The other area is in the Lake Michigan basin.) Its deep aquifer has limited
    recharge due to a shale layer and is down 400 to 600 feet. It is also contaminated with radium. But it is also only 18 miles away from Lake Michigan, making the use of Great Lakes water a feasible but still very
    expensive ($200 million) water supply alternative. Groundwater alternatives would have significant negative environmental impacts.

    That is a rare combination of circumstances in Wisconsin or in other Great Lakes states. Claims about 30% of the state being in a similar situation are without merit and only harm the important work you are doing on issues that actually do have impacts on Great Lakes levels.

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