WAUKESHA - Governor Scott Walker visited Waukesha on Wednesday to celebrate the city's historic achievement in attaining permission to tap in Lake Michigan for its water source.
The landmark vote, which required the unanimous support from the governors of eight U.S. states, caps a five year and $5 million application process.
"It would have been so easy for some of [the other governors] to punt this and vote 'no' for political reasons," Walker proclaimed at a news conference. "Water's important, public health is important, economic development is important, infrastructure is important. All of these things are tied together."
Waukesha required permission from the eight states - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York - because the city sits outside the Great Lakes Basin. The Basin is a border drawn up by Congress dividing the geography of where rain water would naturally flow back into the Great Lakes. The agreement, called the Great Lakes Compact, was set up to prevent any city or town from using Great Lakes water and not returning it, thus maintaining the natural levels of the fresh water resource.
Waukesha's plan is to buy water from Oak Creek which would then pipeline the water west. Waukesha would use the water, treat the water, then send it back to the Lake via the Root River in Racine.
"This is not just a triumph of Waukesha prevailing here," Walker added. "It keeps the Compact itself in place because it shows that it works if you meet the high bar and the high measure of clean water."
Waukesha mayor Shawn Reilly tells TODAY'S TMJ4 construction should start next year, with water flowing from Lake Michigan into town in 2020.