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Environment & Energy

Leaders From Around the Great Lakes Will Meet To Discuss Water Diversion

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BRIAN BULL
/
WCPN

Eight states, along with two Canadian provinces, could decide Thursday if one community in Wisconsin will be allowed to divert water from Lake Michigan.

It would be the first city to do so since a 2008 agreement that says Great Lakes water is off-limits to anyone outside an eight-state basin.

Waukesha, Wis., sits west of Milwaukee and its groundwater is infused with radium.  Six years ago, the city applied for permission to get its water from Lake Michigan, about 20 miles away.

On Thursday, representatives for the governors of eight states that border the Great Lakes, including Ohio, as well as the premiers from Ontario and Quebec will meet in Chicago.  They’ll recommend whether or not to approve Waukesha’s application.

Molly Flanagan from the environmental group Alliance for the Great Lakes says this is the first test for 2008’s Great Lakes Compact.

“Waukesha is really going to set a precedent for future communities that may look to Great Lakes as a source for drinking water,” Flanagan said.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer will attend the meeting on behalf of Gov. Kasich. He wouldn’t comment on Ohio’s position in the matter.