Transparency Sought On Great Lakes Water Level Study: Why Not The Same Tough Approach On Diversion Planning?
The Journal Sentinel continues to pound away on the secrecy that surrounds an important study about why water levels in the Great Lakes have fallen.
This is real public interest reporting, and one of the reasons why we need daily papers to succeed: only full-scale newsrooms have the resources and credibility to carry out this scale of journalism.
I would love to see the same energy expended by the paper's local news reporters to learn why there is such a dearth of information about the City of Waukesha's plan to divert water from Lake Michigan and return treated water to the Lake via a tributary - - Underwood Creek.Waukesha and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission are both saying that Underwood Creek will be able to handle the added nine million gallons per day - - a number sure to increase as Waukesha grows and annexes more water-demanding land for development - - or that the diversion planning is moving ahead smoothly with a cooperative Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and so forth.
But where's the data?
The preliminary plans?
The science with regard to the biochemical changes that the returned treated water will bring to the Creek or to its fish populations?
The capacity of the Creek's banks to hold the added water, or the capacity of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage Commission to handle the added flow during rain events?
The fiscal projections for the costs to Waukesha, or Wauwatosa, where the new piping will flow into the Creek, or the new tax burden to the MMSD, etc., etc.
I am sure some of these issues have been on the table when the Waukesha Water Utility so frequently went into closed session that a James Bouman, a citizen activist, has brought an Open Meetings complaint to a Waukesha County Judge.
If secrecy is undermining the public interest when Great Lakes water levels are being studied, isn't it also a problem when so little has been disclosed about a precedent-setting plan underway by a community outside the Great Lakes basin for the first diversion of Great Lakes water under the new Great Lakes Compact?