We were asked by the City of Waukesha to co-sign a letter of support with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce for the City’s application for a federal Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to help with costs related to Lake Michigan water:
July 17, 2018
Jorianne Jernberg, WIFIA Program Director
William Jefferson Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Mail Code: 4202M
Washington, DC 20460
Re: City of Waukesha WIFIA Application
Dear Ms. Jernberg:
We are writing in support of the application by the City of Waukesha, Wisconsin for a loan under the federal Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
Waukesha needs a new water supply because the city’s main water source contains levels of naturally-occurring radium that exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. Waukesha must meet a 2023 court-ordered deadline to comply with the federal standard.
Waukesha’s water source also has a severe drawdown. That is due to a layer of shale rock that restricts recharge by rain and snowmelt, along with regional over-pumping.
To meet its need for a new water supply, Waukesha applied to divert and return Lake Michigan water. The eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces that reviewed its application unanimously have voted that Waukesha meets the strict conditions of the Great Lakes Compact, including that it has no reasonable water supply alternative to Great Lakes water.
The residents of Waukesha need a water supply that is safe, reliable and sustainable for the long term. In addition to the benefits to the families and businesses that are served by the Waukesha Water Utility, there are regional benefits to the project. Those include regional economic benefits for contractors, consultants and their employees; ending the largest Wisconsin withdrawal of the deep aquifer; and a water supply agreement with the City of Milwaukee that will provide millions of dollars in new revenue to the region’s largest city.
The financial burdens of this $285 million project for a city of 71,000 residents are substantial. Total water bills (water supply and wastewater) are expected to increase by about 150% in coming years. A WIFIA loan could prevent some of that increase while helping the city comply with federal drinking water standards.
Thank you for your consideration of our support for Waukesha’s WIFIA application.
President & CEO
Waukesha County Business Alliance
Steve Baas, IOM
Senior VP – Governmental Affairs & Public Policy
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
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