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Most Michigan congressional reps want Snyder to deny Great Lakes withdrawal request

Only 17 miles from Lake Michigan's shore, Waukesha, Wis. wants to replace its contaminated drinking water with water from the lake.
flickr user Rachel Kramer

Eleven of Michigan's 14 members of Congress are urging Governor Snyder – and the other Great Lakes governors – to deny a request from Waukesha, Wisconsin to divert water from Lake Michigan.

The city's ground water is contaminated with radium, which can cause cancer.

But 11 Michigan congressional reps signed a letter opposing the city's request, including U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn).

“We believe we've got to protect out water,” Congresswoman Dingell said Friday. “So that's why we're recommending that the governors reject the request…. We believe that diverting water from the Great Lakes should be a last resort, only employed when all the other means have been exhausted. And there are other means available still."

But a Wisconsin review team found there are no other reasonable alternatives for the city.

And the Great Lakes Regional Body recently gave the city preliminary approval to divert about 8 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan. The city would then treat and return the water to the lake.

There’s actually a benefit to Lake Michigan from this proposed deal, says Grant Trigger, Governor Snyder’s designee to the Great Lakes Regional Body and Compact Council.

He says that’s because the current wells Waukesha uses are pulling water that would otherwise flow into the Great Lakes basin.

“What’s interesting is they draw water from those wells from the Lake Michigan basin,” Trigger said Friday. “So the more water they pump, the deeper they pump, the more the water they pull from the Lake Michigan basin. Which gets discharged into the Mississippi River basin."

The Great Lakes governors will make their final decision in June. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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