Getting the City of Waukesha a reliable and sustainable water source has been talked about for years.
While it would not be the final step in this long process, finding that source and working out a deal with that city would be a major step forward.
And it appears the City of Waukesha is taking these steps with the City of Oak Creek as both of the cities indicate that their Common Councils are meeting Tuesday in closed session to discuss the City of Waukesha’s Application for Great Lakes Water.
According to Waukesha’s agenda, “a motion to go into closed session will be made for the purpose of discussing negotiations for a potential agreement with Oak Creek or Racine as it relates to the City of Waukesha’s Application for Great Lakes Water.”
The City of Waukesha’s Common Council meets at 7:30 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers, 201 Delafield St.
According to Oak Creek’s agenda, there will be “a motion to convene into closed session immediately following the conclusion of the Common Council meeting to discuss a letter of intent to discuss wholesale water supply to Waukesha.”
After reconvening, the agenda says that the Council will “consider resolution authorizing the (Water) Utility to execute a letter of intent to supply wholesale water to the City of Waukesha and the Waukesha Water Utility’s service area.”
Oak Creek’s Council meets at 7 p.m. at its City Hall Council Chambers, 8640 S. Howell Ave.
The Common Council for the City of Racine, the other city Waukesha has had negotiations with, also meets on Tuesday but its agenda does not have anything related to the water negotiations with the City of Waukesha.
The City of Waukesha is under a 2018 deadline to have radium-compliant water. According to the City of Waukesha’s Water Utility, the city currently obtains more than 87 percent of its water supply from the deep St. Peter Sandstone Aquifer.
It states that continued use of the aquifer by the City and surrounding communities since the 19th century and the presence of the Maquoketa shale have led to a 500- to 600-foot decline in aquifer water levels.
The utility notes that these levels continue to drop 5 to 9 feet per year and that reduced groundwater levels in southeastern Wisconsin have affected regional surface waters, which now receive about 18 percent less in groundwater contribution as water migrates toward the deep aquifer.
Significant water quality issues occur with declining water levels in the deep aquifer, including increased levels of salts and radium (a naturally occurring element in the deep aquifer that can cause cancer).
Waukesha began negotiations with Oak Creek on a possible water deal about a year ago. The City of Waukesha was also interested in negotiating with the City of Milwaukee, but negotiations never materialized between the two.
After working out a deal with Oak Creek, the City of Waukesha would also have to get the approval of Wisconsin and the governors of the seven other Great Lakes states.