Death by a thousand straws.
Luckily, we now have a Great Lakes Compact that protects our Great Lakes from diversions outside of the basin. This will help keep healthy water levels and flows not only for steelhead, trout, and walleye…but for the businesss that depend upon a sustainable source of water. Thats the competitive advantage that we have here in the Great Lakes.
But does that mean that folks that need water outside of the Great Lakes Basin can’t get it?
Not exactly. There are exemptions for straddling counties and communities adjacent to the Great Lakes Basin.
Enter diversion application.
The City of Waukesha, Wisconsin (which straddles the Great Lakes Basin) has proposed the first application to the diversion exemption since the Compact became law in 2008. Everyone around the Great Lakes Basin is watching this and quite simply…its precedent setting.
Quick in short is that Waukesha has a sustainable water problem. Years of over pumping have dramatically declined their deep groundwater supplies to unsustainable levels. Thus causing naturally occurring radium to infiltrate their drinking water source and creating a public health issue. Not good. So, they are banking on a Lake Michigan diversion to fix these problems.
Yet, according to a new report by scientist Jim Nicholas (funded by National Wildlife Federation), Waukesha has more potential water options on the table and might not need as much water as proposed.