Okay, we have an agreement on the Great Lakes Water Compact which is a good thing because I found myself in the very strange position of agreeing with Mayor Larry Nelson, Steve Schmuki, Governor Jim Doyle, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and a host of lefty bloggers. I'm sorry but that's just not a good neighborhood to be in. I think I have a rash. Never mind, it's just the radium.
So we have an agreement on the compact after the Assembly Republicans finally understood the single-state veto wasn't going anywhere. As I wrote in this week's column for the Waukesha Freeman (always worth the 50 cents) :
What the opponents appear to be forgetting is that the current federal law governing diversions also grants each state a veto. There isn’t any criteria or process for granting permission for a diversion, so a state can veto a diversion application without offering any justification.
It’s quite unrealistic to expect any state’s governor to give up that kind of authority. Political bodies as a rule tend to jealously guard power that has been accumulated. If the four years it took to negotiate the compact didn’t shake loose this provision, it’s unlikely four or even eight more years will accomplish it.
But even under the current law the governors approved a diversion for Pleasant Prairie. With the compromise in place, Waukesha should be able to look forward to that kind of successful request.
Now comes the hard part. We get to apply for a diversion from Lake Michigan. That means we'll have to figure out how to pipeline the stuff in, pay for it, conserve water when we can, pay for that, clean the water, pay again, and somehow return the treated water back to the source (oh, how we'll pay). Pay, pay, pay. That means development in Waukesha County is going to have to take into account just how much water we will consume and what it will cost. And then we'll have to decide how we're going to pay for it. Even more important, who will pay for it.
Unlike the liberals that tend to believe signing a piece of paper solves everything, the rest of us are going to have to live in the real world. That means some hard choices ahead.
The good news is, we get to keep the lake. Maybe.