May 31, 2016

Sierra Club statement on Great Lakes Office Director Jon Allen’s Support for the Waukesha, WI, Great Lakes Water Diversion

Sierra Club statement on Great Lakes Office Director Jon Allen’s Support for the Waukesha, WI, Great Lakes Water Diversion
Anne Woiwode, Michigan Chapter Conservation Chair
Bill Davis, John Muir (Wisconsin) Chapter Director
May 31, 2016

Anyone who cares about protecting the Great Lakes will be extremely disappointed in the decision by Jon Allen, the Director of Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, to support the first diversion of Great Lakes water outside of the Great Lakes basin under the Great Lakes Compact[1].  It is nothing more than an attempt to put a public relations spin on a bad decision to recommend that Waukesha be granted a precedent-setting Great Lakes diversion, the first under the historic 2008 Compact agreement.

The Great Lakes define both Wisconsin and Michigan, and are one of our region’s most important natural resources. That is why the Great Lakes Compact has enjoyed such widespread support from Michigan elected leaders from both parties and from so many Michiganders. The Great Lakes Compact was created to make sure water stays in the Great Lakes to continue to provide economic and recreational opportunities for our region for future generations.  First and foremost, to meet the requirements of the Great Lakes Compact a community must show there is no other feasible alternative to Great Lakes water to meet their needs.  The city of Waukesha’s application fails on that point. 

To argue, as Mr. Allen does, that the diversion should be permitted because some of the groundwater Waukesha is currently pumping may be connected to the Great Lakes is absurd.  It violates the basic premise of the Compact that a community must show they need to pump water out of the Great Lakes.  This was intended to be a “high bar” but under Mr. Allen’s logic any community that could make a claim that their groundwater is somehow connected to the lakes would be granted a permit.  This is not what was intended.

Mr. Allen’s comments are particularly ironic in light of the Michigan Senate action last week; the Senate got it right when it passed Resolution 173 on a bipartisan basis which calls on Governor Snyder to veto the proposed Waukesha Diversion.  The resolution acknowledges that other alternatives exist for Waukesha and the precedent of approving this first diversion would be potentially devastating to the Great Lakes and to Michigan, the Great Lakes State. 

We urge Governor Snyder to heed the calls from increasing numbers of organizations and officials urging that he veto this proposed diversion of our Great Lakes waters.


Contact information:
Bill Davis: 608 256-0565, 608 345-2087 cell;
Anne Woiwode: 517-974-2112;

[1] “Allan: Stop diversion of water from Lake Michigan into Wisconsin,”
Lansing State Journal,