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Milwaukee officials approve agreement to sell water to Waukesha

Milwaukee officials have approved a deal that will let the city sell water to Waukesha.

Waukesha plans to eventually use Lake Michigan as its source of municipal water. On Tuesday, members of the Milwaukee Common Council approved intergovernmental agreement that will allow Waukesha to buy water from Milwaukee.

Waukesha officials began looking for a new source of water not long after discovering that their current aquifers were drying out and becoming polluted. Even with the approval Tuesday, Waukesha won’t immediately begin drawing water from Lake Michigan. A pipeline and other infrastructure will first have to be built.

The agreement comes after city officials received permission by the Great Lakes Compact Council to draw water from the lake. This group, whose members include the eight states that border one of the Great Lakes, has a say in any proposal that would have water from the Great Lakes transported to a place lying outside the Great Lakes drainage basin. Waukesha is completely outside the basin’s boundaries.

The agreement was voted against by only one member of the Common Council: Alderman Nik Kovac. Kovac said allowing Waukesha to take water from Lake Michigan might open the door in a way that lets other municipalities take the same step.

Kovac also argued Waukesha officials are not interested in working with Milwaukee on projects like a regional transit network unless it directly benefits them.

Officials expect work on the pipeline to begin between 2019 and 2020 and to finish up in 2023. The project will entail the construction of pumping structures and a 15.6-mile pipeline running from 60th Street to Howard Avenue in Milwaukee to Waukesha.

The water-diversion project is expected to cost $285 million in total.

About Alex Zank, alex.zank@dailyreporter.com

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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