Thursday, March 26, 2009

Underwood Creek

One thing I have pointed out more than once is that the Estabrook Dam impoundment does not alter any watershed, in the sense that the water from this part of the Milwaukee River basin gets to exactly where it is supposed to go- Lake Michigan. It's detained for awhile, but I'm late for just about everything too, so I'm not really in a position to judge here.
On the other hand (according to this March 22, 2009 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article), being considered at this very moment is a project to divert Lake Michigan water into a neighboring watershed (Waukesha), using it for swimming pools, lawn-watering, and golf courses (as well as household and business use), and then "pouring all the city's treated wastewater into a small stream in Wauwatosa." Underwood Creek, already prone to flooding, which leads into the Menomonee River, also prone to flooding, would bear the burden of handling Waukesha's used and treated water. (Picture is from an online MMSD brochure- section of Menomonee River in Hart Park, which flooded heavily in the late 90's.)
I found these statements from Biebel, the SEWRPC engineer,particularly interesting- "If the discharge is 10 million gallons a day, that is not a significant flow. That would add just a few inches in depth and not much in velocity." He then went on to explain- the article quoted him indirectly here- "Waukesha could avoid adding to extreme flows in the creek during heavy rain storms, and filling the basin more quickly than planned, by shutting off the discharge. The city could pour its treated wastewater into the Fox River at those times."

"Though the Fox River is outside the Great Lakes basin, Waukesha likely could discharge to it several days a year without violating the requirement for returning as much water to Lake Michigan as it withdraws, Biebel said". The discharge pipe would most likely be located just north of Bluemound Road, by 124th street, just inside the Great Lakes Basin again. Have I mentioned that the project is likely to cost $60-70 million? Does that put the dam repair money into perspective?

A project like this requires the consent of each of the eight Great Lakes states. This is a regional issue.


Erik Helm said...

For the record, I support Milwaukee Riverkeeper's position on this. No diversion. Period. It is a bad road to go down, and poor precedent.

Dave Reid said...

Agreed. I've been following your blog because I don't know much at all about the dam situation (ha kinda of funny) but I think we all can agree that the Waukesha diversion should not happen.

willie dynamite said...

Waukesha used to be known as Spring City and had huge freshwater resources. Due to poor land use decisions and over use they now have a problem. There should not be one drop of water leaving the basin. Waukesha Co needs to learn how to live within there means and giving them water from the great lakes sets a horrible percedent. Freshwater is one of the truely valuable natural resources and the great lakes are ground zero for this new battle.

irishmexmix said...

I live in Saukville close to the Milwaukee River.
This morning I went out to shovel an a OTTER ran across my driveway and slid down my front lawn.
Last week I saw one In Hartford running across HWY 60 which is close to the Rubicon River.
kind of a coincidence.

The River Otter said...

Super cute!!!
I am hearing so much about the otters' resurgence in SE WI. I wonder if there is empirical data to support the anecdotes- maybe the DNR has it the way they have the fish reports.