Thursday, April 15, 2010

Groups Concerned About New Berlin Diversion Compliance

Apr 13: A joint release from a number of Great Lakes environmental organizations indicates that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) gave notice to the City of New Berlin that the city had failed to meet its commitments under the terms of the Lake Michigan Diversion Approval it was granted last year, on May 21, 2009. They raised the question of whether the "New Berlin Compliance [is] A Foreshadowing of Worse to Come?" The City of New Berlin was the first community within any of the eight Great Lakes states to receive approval for a diversion under the historic Great Lakes Water Resources Compact enacted December 8, 2008.  The groups issuing the release included: Alliance for the Great Lakes; Clean Wisconsin; Milwaukee Riverkeeper; Midwest Environmental Advocates; New Berlin Land Conservancy; Sixteenth Street Community Health Center; Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.
    The groups reported that WDNR had given the City 30 days from March 30, 2010, to provide the required information called for under the terms of the Diversion Approval, and to include reporting on: Water quantities sold within the city limits and within the approved diversion area; Water amount diverted to the diversion area on a monthly basis; Water quantity pumped from municipal wells; and Estimates of sewerage return flow by category.

 Attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, Of Counsel to Midwest Environmental Advocates, Wisconsin's only non-profit environmental law center said, "The City of New Berlin's failure to meet the terms of its Diversion Approval is actually not a first for the city, as New Berlin was five months late on an earlier required dead-line to provide details on its Water Conservation Program." New Berlin was required to submit additional water conservation information by August 21, 2009, but the City did not, in fact, comply until January 12, 2010.

    Other groups around the Great Lakes region also find New Berlin's failure troubling. Ed Glatfelter, Director of Water Conservation Programs for the Alliance for the Great Lakes said, "Communities, like the City of New Berlin, seeking diversions under the Great Lakes Compact should know that they have a duty to comply with the law in its entirety and honor their long-term commitments under any diversion approval granted."

    Access a joint release from organizations (click here).