News Briefs: Great Lakes States Approve City’s Water Request

In this week’s news briefs, Waukesha wins a hard-fought battle for Lake Michigan water, and Flint police investigate a suspicious break-in at City Hall.
News Briefs: Great Lakes States Approve City’s Water Request

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The Great Lakes Compact Council, representing governors of eight states, voted unanimously June 21 to approve a request by the City of Waukesha, Wisconsin, to divert drinking water from Lake Michigan.

Although the Milwaukee suburb is only 15 miles from Lake Michigan, it lies just outside the watershed boundary established by a 2008 compact that prohibits most water diversions. Municipalities outside the boundary are required to get permission from all of the region’s eight states to draw water from the Great Lakes, per the compact.

Waukesha, a city of about 72,000 people, says groundwater wells it has long relied on are contaminated with radium, and the city has been seeking the diversion for at least a decade, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

“This is something the City of Waukesha has worked on for a very long time,” says Mayor Shawn Reilly. “This was Waukesha’s only option in order to have a safe and sustainable source of water for its residents for the future.”

Reilly says it will take more than $200 million and up to two years to build pipelines that will deliver an average of 8.2 mgd, which it will buy from Oak Creek. Waukesha says it will return as much water as it uses and send treated wastewater back to the lake via the Root River.

Opponents of the measure claim the request sets a precedent that could lead to other communities outside the watershed boundary to request future diversions.

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio

Police: Flint Burglary an Inside Job
Days before the federal government opened an investigation into the Flint water crises, someone broke into an office at City Hall where documents related to the Michigan city’s water system were kept, the Flint Journal reports.

Officials confirmed that a TV was taken but it is unknown what else may have gone missing during the break-in.

“We don’t know if papers or files were taken because papers were all over the floor,” says Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. “Maybe papers were taken, maybe they weren’t. We just don’t know.”

An employee returning to work on Dec. 28 discovered a broken window and reported the break-in. Weaver says it is impossible to know if any papers were taken, but police chief Tim Johnson suspects foul play.

“It was definitely an inside job,” Johnson says. “The power cord (to the TV) wasn’t even taken. The average drug user knows that you’d need the power cord to be able to pawn it.

“It was somebody that had knowledge of those documents that really wanted to keep them out of the right hands, out of the hands of someone who was going to tell the real story of what’s going on with Flint water.”

The break-in remains under investigation by local and state police.

Source: Flint Journal

Students Hired to Monitor Water Quality
Students and staff at Indiana University of Pennsylvania will test the water quality at Beaver Run Reservoir to ensure it is safe to drink after the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County approved an $85,000 contract with the school.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the 11-billion-gallon reservoir in Bell Township, Pennsylvania, serves as the primary water source for about 150,000 residents. Property around the reservoir has been leased to a private energy company to drill for natural gas.

“The tests will assure our customers there is an independent evaluator of the water quality at Beaver Run and it has not been affected by the drilling activity near the reservoir,” says authority manager Chris Kerr.

IUP will conduct four tests a year and post the results to a public website. It’s the fifth year the school has been commissioned to monitor water quality at the reservoir. Tests conducted last year found no irregularities in the water supply, per the report.

The authority provides water to more than 400,000 residents in five counties.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


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