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How one city in Wisconsin may change how we protect the Great Lakes

October 22, 2013

The city of Waukesha (near Milwaukee) is asking for permission to tap into Lake Michigan for drinking water - to the tune of 10.1 million gallons per day. The aquifer that has provided most of its drinking water for the last century has dropped so far, that the water left behind has unhealthy levels of radium and salt. So the city of 70,000 is under a federal order to find a new source, and Lake Michigan is just 15 miles away. But Waukesha has the bad luck to be a mile and a half outside the watershed boundary that encircles the five Great Lakes. So now the question is, how do we balance the need for a public water supply with the need to protect the Great Lakes? Noah Hall, Wayne State University law professor who helped draft the compact, discusses what's going on in Wisconsin, and where the Great Lakes stand.