Great Lakes Regional Body Votes On Lake Michigan Diversion

The Fox River flows through Waukesha (photo: flickr user K. Magoon)

By Elizabeth Miller 

A group representing the 8 states and 2 Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes has given preliminary approval to one city’s request to divert water from Lake Michigan.  The 10 representatives, called the Regional Body, met several times this spring to discuss whether the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin could divert water from the lake.  All states and provinces supported the vote with the exception of Minnesota, who abstained.

This is the first city outside of the Great Lakes Watershed to request a diversion since 2008’s Great Lakes Compact was signed.  That document states that Great Lakes water is not to be used except in cases of communities straddling the Watershed line, counties straddling the Watershed line, and transfers of water from one Great Lake to another.  And like Waukesha, any community that may qualify as an exception must submit a diversion request.

The city of Waukesha changed their initial request of 10.1 million gallons a day to 8.7 million gallons last month after Regional Body members reviewed the diversion application.  Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said in a statement that he is hopeful the Great Lakes states will agree with the Regional Body’s findings.

The Great Lakes Compact Council – representatives for the 8 state governors – will meet June 21 or 22 to announce a final decision.





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