In an interview with the Small Business Times, outgoing Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley says the water supply is the "major issue" facing the county.
Here are a few excerpts:
SBT: You mentioned the supply of drinking water. That's not a lifestyle issue. That's a life issue. How critical is the problem?
Finley: "It's very critical, and unfortunately, not enough people are aware of it yet. And it really comes down to two things, Steve: quantity and quality of our water supply. First of all, we were developing so rapidly, that we have not replenished the water we've been using. And secondly, we've discovered that much of our water supply is contaminated ..."
The deeper Waukesha digs into its aquifer, the higher the level of radium contamination there is. The other part of the problem is Waukesha has developed without regard to the effect on the environment, in this case the water supply. This is something critics of urban sprawl west of Milwaukee have been screaming about for years.
SBT: Ultimately, is the solution going to be to somehow bring water from Lake Michigan through Milwaukee County, which would be costly, or is it developing better and more water treatment facilities in Waukesha County, which also would be costly?
Finley: "The answer is there are a number of options, and you just mentioned two of them. There are options of digging more wells. There are options of trying to reclaim more rainwater. There are options to reclaim the Fox River. There are options of conservation. You know, we have little or no water conservation programs in Waukesha County. So, the answer here is it's going to have to be all of them."
Most of Waukesha County lies west of the subcontinental divide, and therefore it cannot, under current law, acquire water from Lake Michigan unless it is granted an exemption. This is highly unlikely, because it would require the consent of the states and Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes.
So whose fault is it that Waukesha has had "little or no water conservation programs" over the years? You've only been running the county for 14 years Dan! Fortunately for Finley, he's on his way out and will be drinking Milwaukee water at his new gig at the Public Museum