Before Waukesha planned to tap Lake Michigan, everything was on table.
The city studied 14 options to get clean water and, as the Lake Michigan plan slowly became the center of attention, the other 13 faded out of public discussion. Lest we forget how history brought city leaders to pursue Lake Michigan, let’s review a few of the rejects that didn’t make it past the first cut.
The most novel idea was to take the city’s wastewater, treat it and reuse it. This one has the longest list of reasons why it was eliminated, including a limited supply that can’t satisfy seasonal increases in drinking water demand and “public health and perception.” I’m assuming that last part, in layman’s terms, means the idea has an “ewww factor” that is off the charts.
The Fox and Rock rivers were discarded because, like the city’s wastewater, they can’t satisfy demand in the dry summer months. Since the rivers don’t have enough water, the city considered building dams on them. That would have turned private property into lakes and posed “regulatory issues.”
The city found no water shortage problems in the Milwaukee River, but the water is “poor quality,” which was a prudent assessment. After all, there’s a barge that patrols the river in Milwaukee to fish out the stuff floating downstream. I’ve heard from credible enough sources that, at least in years gone by, that stuff ranged from branches to cow carcasses.
Ewww factor, indeed.
The Waukesha Water Utility has a stack of studies on its water plan that stands a few feet tall but, to make it easy on you, you can find the highlights of the rejected plans here. Take a look and tell us what you think about the runners-up.
Sean Ryan is a staff writer for The Daily Reporter. Even though water comprises 60 percent of his body weight, he remains unbiased on the subject.