Bursting Chicago’s water bubble

City officials, urban planners and environmental experts warn of a disconnect between Chicagoans’ perception of water abundance and reality.

They fear future scarcity unless there are radical changes in the way water is collected, distributed and consumed.

Waukesha unveils its request for water

(WI) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Calling the city’s search for a radium-free water supply “a critical public health issue,” Mayor Larry Nelson on Thursday said a proposed diversion of Great Lakes water to the city was the only safe, reliable and environmentally sustainable option. Simply switching from deep sandstone wells tainted with radium and salt to shallow wells for all of the city’s needs is not sustainable because the pumping would reduce the volume of groundwater feeding wetlands, streams and lakes and would harm those resources, says a draft application for Lake Michigan water that was released Thursday. More

Waukesha wastewater would not degrade Underwood Creek

(WI) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Pumping Waukesha’s treated wastewater to Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa would not degrade the stream or spur algae growth, according to a study released Wednesday. With the finding, Waukesha officials say, the city clears a hurdle in its long-running quest to tap Lake Michigan water to replace the city’s radium-tainted groundwater. Using Underwood Creek would allow the city to satisfy a requirement in a Great Lakes protection compact that the city return nearly all diverted water back to the lake. More

10 Lake County suburbs look to tap Lake Michigan water

(IL) Chicago Tribune – In what could be the state’s largest collective gulp of Lake Michigan water in nearly two decades, 10 suburbs are seeking approval to tap the vast but closely guarded natural resource. With groundwater supplies drying up and vulnerable to contamination, the Lake County communities that now rely on wells are casting envious eyes on that tantalizingly close supply — the sixth-largest freshwater lake in the world. They propose spending $250 million to lay about 57 miles of pipe and take other steps that would bring Lake Michigan water to the western part of Lake County. More

Waukesha sets Jan. 28 meeting on bid for Lake Michigan water

(WI) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – City officials later this month will unveil a draft application to pump Lake Michigan water to Waukesha for its residents and businesses, Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak said Tuesday. Switching Waukesha’s supply from groundwater wells to the lake – if approved by the governors of Wisconsin and the other seven Great Lakes states – would cost an estimated $78 million in construction costs, officials said. The price includes building a pipeline to discharge the city’s treated wastewater to Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa so the water would flow back to Lake Michigan, as required by a Great Lakes protection compact. More

Full steam ahead

(WI) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – A Milwaukee Common Council committee took a welcome step forward this week when it recommended that the city declare an interest in selling Lake Michigan water to the city of Waukesha. That doesn’t mean the city will sell the water, but – if the full council follows suit Dec. 22 – declaring its interest in a letter to Waukesha allows discussion and the process to move ahead, and that is a good thing. The letter is a necessary part of Waukesha’s application for lake water under the Great Lakes compact, which would require, among other things, the approval of the eight Great Lakes states governors. There is still a long road ahead for Waukesha and many details to be worked out.

Waukesha can move forward with bid for lake water, state says

(WI) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Waukesha’s pursuit of Lake Michigan water does not have to wait until state rules are adopted implementing a Great Lakes protection compact, state Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank says in a letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. In June, Barrett and Ald. Michael Murphy had asked Frank not to accept an application to divert Lake Michigan water outside of the Great Lakes drainage basin until state rules for reviewing the requests were in place. More