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Tosa residents oppose Waukesha water plan

Wastewater would return to lake through Underwood Creek

July 27, 2011

Wauwatosa - Keep Waukesha wastewater out of Underwood Creek, several Wauwatosa residents told state Department of Natural Resources officials at a hearing Wednesday at Hart Park.

They urged the DNR to require the City of Waukesha to discharge its wastewater directly into Lake Michigan, rather than the creek, if the city is given permission to buy lake water in the future.

Waukesha is asking Wisconsin and each of the other seven Great Lakes states to approve its request for lake water so that it can abandon deep wells delivering radium-contaminated water from saturated sandstone. A 2008 Great Lakes protection compact would require Waukesha to return most of the water to Lake Michigan in the form of treated wastewater.

In its application, Waukesha said its preferred discharge location is Underwood Creek at Krueger Park in Brookfield, immediately south of Blue Mound Road, because of its proximity to Waukesha. The creek is a tributary of the Menomonee River, so the city's wastewater would flow downstream to the harbor and out to the lake.

Two discharge options discussed in the application - a pipeline to the Root River or a pipeline to the lakeshore - would cost more and would have more construction-related environmental impacts than the shorter pipeline to Underwood Creek, the city's application said.

The only reason Waukesha prefers to discharge to the creek "is to save money," Wauwatosa Ald. Dennis McBride said.

"Wauwatosa gets nothing from this other than the possibility of flooding," McBride said.

Waukesha Water Utility Commission President Dan Warren said in written comments that discharge of wastewater to Underwood Creek would not cause additional flooding along the stream or the Menomonee River. In extreme downpours, the city could withhold its discharge temporarily to ensure it does not boost flooding in the waterways.

Lake Michigan is the only reasonable and sustainable water source available to meet the city's needs, Waukesha officials concluded after a decade of study and the rejection of more than a dozen local sources, including wells, the Fox River and water stored in quarries.

Another hearing is scheduled for Thursday at the DNR Service Center in Sturtevant.

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