Great Lakes cities group opposes Waukesha water withdrawal

CHICAGO — An organization representing more than 100 local governments is fighting an effort by Waukesha to use Lake Michigan as its drinking water source.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative sent letters of opposition Tuesday to the eight states and two Canadian provinces adjoining the lakes.

Waukesha is outside the Great Lakes' geographical boundary but is part of a county that straddles the line. Under a regional compact, such communities can apply to withdraw water from the lakes. But permission is needed from all eight states.

Waukesha says it needs to tap Lake Michigan because its groundwater is contaminated. It promises to return as much water as it takes.

But the cities initiative says Waukesha has better alternatives and the proposed withdrawal could set a bad precedent.