Waukesha Responds to Lake Michigan Mayors' Water Application Questions
The land that is in Waukesha's future service area limits future industrial and commercial growth, according to letter from Interim City Administrator Steve Crandell.
The Waukesha Water Utility’s responded to a letter from mayors in Milwaukee, Oak Creek and Racine that took city officials by surprise as Waukesha’s looking to negotiate a deal to purchase Lake Michigan water from the three communities.
The letter from mayors Tom Barrett, Al Foeckler and John Dickert questioned Waukesha about the city’s conservation measures, rate increase requests and water service area. All three communities are competitors against one another as Waukesha seeks a new water source, although Milwaukee authorities have not yet started negotiating with Waukesha.
“Our need for a water supply is not about growth or gaining a competitive advantage,” Interim City Administrator Steve Crandell wrote in a response back to the three mayors. “Our need for a new water supply is about protecting public health and choosing the water supply that is most environmentally protective of the waters of the state – both groundwater and surface water.
“Withdrawing and then recycling water back to the Great Lakes after use – instead of pumping unreliable supplies of groundwater resources from one of the state’s two groundwater management areas – is the logical and sustainable policy choice and our only reasonable water supply alternative.”
The documents sent by Waukesha are attached to this article.
Because of the surprising nature of the letter, other elected officials in Oak Creek and Racine made it clear they are interested in continuing negotiations with Waukesha in attempts to secure a water sale deal that could lower water rates for its residents.
Crandell said Tuesday the city’s negotiations with Oak Creek and Racine are going “very, very well.” While there is no update on when Milwaukee will begin negotiations, Crandell said he hopes they can begin soon as Waukesha’s deep in negotiations with the other two communities.
“We are well into this process with Oak Creek and Racine,” Crandell said.
But Oak Creek’s mayor, Foeckler, brought forward concerns in an interview with Patch about the economic impacts to development in Oak Creek if a deal with Waukesha was approved.
"I have concerns that Oak Creek could be subsidizing development in Waukesha at the same time we're trying to bring in jobs to Oak Creek," he said.
The letter from Crandell outlines the city’s future water service and projected growth estimates for specific areas of economic development. Fifteen percent of the land in the service area is available for development with 1.2 percent of the land outside the city projected for industrial growth and .9 percent for commercial land use.