Great Lakes Water Wanted

Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope. May 11, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Design39Media)

The City of Waukesha, Wisconsin is looking to change its water supply to the Great Lakes basin and Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope isn’t happy about it.

Hope is a member of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which is pushing back against the proposal. He says a message has been sent to the province to get on side with the group’s efforts.

“You need to stand stronger with those municipalities who are saying, ‘There could be social, economic and environmental issues if more and more people are drawing water from the Great Lakes basin,” says Hope.

Officials in Waukesha argue the aquifer which serves as its current water supply is contaminated with radium and drawing water from the Great Lakes is the only alternative.

Hope says allowing Waukesha to connect to the Great Lakes will encourage other municipalities to try and connect.

“How far does it go? Does it mean we’re going to have to transferring water down to the southern part of the [US] where there are water issues?” says Hope. “So, what we’re saying is there is a catchment area that’s already been established and don’t step outside of it.”

He adds there are other issues at play.

“It’s about urban sprawl, it’s about the waste that will flowed down the river into Racine, Wisconsin,” says Hope.

Racine Mayor John Dickert, just down river of Waukesha, says the city hasn’t proven it needs the water and worries the water sent back to Lake Michigan could be contaminated if not properly treated.

Eight states are set to rule on the proposal this week, while Ontario and Quebec — also attached to the Great Lakes basin — won’t get a vote despite being part of deliberations.