City of Waukesha Diversion
The City of Waukesha currently has a deep aquifer groundwater supply, contaminated by high radium concentrations, requiring costly treatment. The city is under an amended court order to comply with radium standards by Sept. 1, 2023. Because of these groundwater concerns, Waukesha applied to the DNR for a diversion of Lake Michigan water under the Great Lakes Compact and Agreement as a “community in a straddling county” in a revised application in 2013. The DNR forwarded their review of the application to the Compact Council in 2016. The Compact Council approved Waukesha's diversion application in June 2016 with conditions including:
- A reduced diversion volume of 8.2 million gallons per day;
- A smaller diversion area of only the area currently served by the Waukesha water utility;
- Monitoring wastewater impacts to the Root River; and
- Annual reporting to the Great Lakes states and provinces on the diversion.
The City of Waukesha will purchase water from the City of Milwaukee and return treated wastewater to the Root River, a tributary of Lake Michigan, and plans to switch from groundwater wells to a Lake Michigan water supply in 2023.
State of Wisconsin Diversion Approval
The DNR approved the City of Waukesha’s diversion and the water supply service area plan in June 2021. The City of Waukesha has obtained all necessary federal, state and local permits to implement the diversion.
Findings of Facts, Conclusions of Law, Decision, June 29, 2021.
Water Supply Service Area Plan Approval, June 29, 2021.
Compact Council Approval
City of Waukesha Diversion Compact Council Final Decision – June 2016.
Other Permits and Correspondence
The DNR has completed a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed project and has issued a determination of compliance with the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act. For more information, see Waukesha Water Diversion EIS.
The City of Waukesha has obtained permits and approvals to discharge wastewater to the Root River, for wastewater facilities, for pipeline stream and wetland crossings, for the water supply pipeline, construction stormwater management from the Department of Transportation and construction authorization from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
The City of Waukesha submitted a revised application for a Lake Michigan diversion in October 2013.
The DNR submitted the City of Waukesha application to the Regional Body and Compact Council in January 2016. Compact Council decision documents are available from the Compact Council.
Prior to submitting the City of Waukesha Application for Regional Review, the DNR reviewed the City of Waukesha diversion application between 2010 and 2015. The DNR did additional review for permit and approval applications to implement the diversion after the Compact Council approval of the diversion.
The DNR also used the EIS process to analyze environmental effects and alternatives of the proposed Waukesha diversion under the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA) and Chapter NR 150, Wis. Adm. Code. As a result of this process, the department issued a final EIS in 2019.
The DNR issued a Technical Review and a response to comments in 2015.
In addition to the Regional Review public participation process, the DNR held public comment periods in 2010, 2013 and 2015.