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Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010

Issue of the Week: DNR Pushes Back on Waukesha’s Water Request

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

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The city of Waukesha received conflicting information about its plan to pump in Lake Michigan water last week. Its request got the blessing of the pro-suburban Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC), which found that pumping Lake Michigan water to and from Waukesha would have environmental benefits and not increase sprawl or draw businesses that otherwise would locate in Milwaukee.

However, the state Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) more stringent look at Waukesha’s water request has consistently found it less than convincing. Since the head of the Waukesha Common Council canceled a November meeting with the DNR due to the inclusion of a watchdog group, the agency sent a letter detailing the deficiencies in Waukesha’s application for Great Lakes water. Some of the problems are highly technical, while others are pretty basic. For example, Waukesha hasn’t provided complete information on all of its water supply alternatives or how, exactly, it would discharge the water into Lake Michigan. The city is also planning to increase its water supply area, but hasn’t provided evidence that the affected communities—the town of Waukesha and Genesee, for example—approve of that change.

Waukesha officials are spinning the DNR’s feedback as helping to “move the process forward.” That’s true. But it’s also a sign that the DNR is taking its responsibilities seriously. After all, the other Great Lakes states must sign off on Waukesha’s precedent-setting request. If the DNR sets the bar too low and approves Waukesha’s request, the other states will either reject it and deal a huge blow to Waukesha or go along with it so that their own requests will have to meet a very low standard. That would be a shame. The next DNR secretary should continue the agency’s tough but fair and transparent review of Waukesha’s application.

Heroes of the Week

Herzing University Staff

Well known for its support of American service members, Herzing University sponsors letter-writing campaigns to troops, collects donations to benefit the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Foundation, and offers a Military Appreciation Scholarship for service members and their families.

On Dec. 3, local Herzing staff assembled care packages at their headquarters (525 N. Sixth St.) to be shipped to members of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment of the National Guard, based out of Madison. These members of the military are on active duty in Iraq and will not be able to spend time with their families this holiday season.

Readers who wish to help Herzing in support of the troops can “like” the “Herzing University Military/Veteran Appreciation Program” Facebook page, in return for which the university will donate money to the VFW Foundation. For additional information, visit www.herzingmilitary.com.

Jerk of the Week

Gov.-elect Scott Walker

Scott Walker’s first decision is an example of how he will govern the state: He’ll take care of himself and his friends, and show little compassion for the disadvantaged. Most inaugural parties try to find a way to benefit a charity while wealthy attendees celebrate. But unlike his predecessor, Jim Doyle, who donated the proceeds from his inaugural events to the Boys & Girls Clubs, Walker has decided that the proceeds from his inaugural party in January will be divvied up between his campaign fund and the Republican Party.

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