Waukesha, Wisc. is in the Mississippi River basin. The city needs clean water and has requested 8.2 million gallons of water per day from the Great Lakes basin.

Should Waukesha be given permission to divert water from Lake Michigan?

In 2014, it was discovered that some of Waukesha's water is tainted with radium. It is a problem which is not uncommon to the area and occurs naturally.

While Waukesha is outside of the Great Lakes basin, they are on its border which makes them eligible to request water from the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact.

The Great Lakes Water Resources Compact was formed in 2008. The group includes the states Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Officials from all eight states, plus Ontario and Quebec, are meeting this week in Chicago. They will provide a recommendation to the governors of the states on whether they should approve or deny the request. Unanimous approval of all eight governors is required for passage.

The National Wildlife Federation says this is the first diversion request since the compact was formed in 2008 and the response will set a precedent. Waukesha originally requested 10.1 million gallons a day. That amount has been reduced to 8.2 million gallons a day.

The Michigan Attorney General's Offfice shares the criteria that the City of Waukesha must meet in order to qualify for a diversion of Great Lakes water:

  • Will use the water for a public water supply;
  • Will maximize the portion of water returned to the source watershed and minimize the return of water from outside that basin;
  • Are without an adequate supply of potable water;
  • Have no reasonable alternative water  supply within its own basin, including the possibility of meeting its own water demands through conservation efforts; and
  • Will not, by diverting water, endanger the integrity of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem.

A vote on whether to approve or deny the request will be held on June 13.