Friday, June 16, 2006

Water or not, here comes development

Somebody had to do it, so former gov Tony Earl played the role of the turd in the punchbowl at a symposium on the economic benefits of Lake Michigan to the region.

While everyone else avoided the issue of whether to sell Lake Michigan water to Waukesha, Earl was direct. JS reports:
"It's absolutely wrong," Earl told a gathering of 200 politicians, business leaders and university researchers. "It would be the very worst, most short-sighted long-term worst thing we could do."

In a day-long symposium on the economics of Lake Michigan at the new Discovery World museum, which drew leaders from both Waukesha and Milwaukee counties, Earl conspicuously was the only speaker to even address Waukesha's water rights issues head on.

The reluctance to talk openly about regional water rights shows how divisive the issue remains. Difficult talks loom over the water rights in coming months and years, which will complicate efforts to improve regional cooperation.

Most of Waukesha County relies on an underground water table that has fallen by nearly 500 feet since the suburbs sprawled westward. As new communities and industries deplete the sandstone aquifer, concentrations of naturally occurring radium have risen beyond federal limits in some areas, forcing the county to seek fresh sources of water.
You may have missed that story, which was relegated to the business section of the paper.

This was the top story on the front page:
Retail center planned
Mayfair owner wants to build at Pabst Farms

An open-air shopping and entertainment complex that would rank among the area's largest retail centers is being proposed for Pabst Farms in Oconomowoc.

General Growth Properties Inc., the company that owns Mayfair Mall, announced plans Thursday to develop a similar-sized center on 110 acres at the northwest corner of I-94 and state Highway 67. The center would include national department stores, upscale shops, a multiscreen theater and restaurants in about 1 million square feet...

The proposed Pabst Farms Town Centre is the second major retail project news in Waukesha County along I-94 within two months.

In May, Delafield developer Robert Lang announced plans to build a $200 million lifestyle center on the southeast side of I-94 and Highway C - about four miles from the Pabst Farms site - that would include upscale stores, restaurants, offices, a hotel and as many as 527 residential units.
Anyone see any connection between these stories? Continuing to build and build in Waukesha County before there is any resolution to the water shortage seems like a risky, short-sighted and potentially destructive path to take.

Are they hoping that someone will discover water in Waukesha County? Or is it the hope that the Milwaukee officials and the governors of all of the Great Lakes state will roll over and give Waukesha the water it needs?

Ignoring the issue is not a viable option.


At 6:19 PM, Blogger vita said...

You know in all other areas of our lives we are implored to plan ahead, get your ducks in row, make certain you have enough for the future. In fact, over the years we (workers) have been asked to do more and more "planning" for ourselves and tomorrow. Yet here we have the most conservative county in Wisconsin where the vast majority espouse to conservative values and its to hell with tomorrow. I'm with Earl on this. Waukesha has had years to begin to show how important they thikn this water issue is. The response? A Duchniak plan that limits watering of lawns on Tuesday and Thursday? In the meantime we get millions more developed farmland to satisfy the conservative masses! Perhaps we should start to address this problem by looking up the definition of "conservative"?


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