The Current

Canadian mayors worry that water to Waukesha sets a dangerous precedent

The decision to allow Waukesha to "borrow" water from Lake Michigan raises concern for the possibility of future water wars between Canada and the United States.
Richard Harvey, mayor of the town of Nipigon in northwestern Ontario, says he is 'very disappointed' by the decision to allow Waukesha, Wis., to divert water from Lake Michigan. (Richard Harvey)

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Anger is growing in municipalities along the Great Lakes over a plan to divert water to the town of Waukesha, Wisconsin. 

Waukesha, which is under court order to replace its current water supply after a radium contamination, falls just outside the boundaries of the Great Lakes watershed.

On June 21, a group of eight U.S. governors of states adjoining the Great Lakes approved a proposal to allow Waukesha to draw 31 million litres of water daily, so long as the town returns the same amount of treated water back to the freshwater network. 

Some Canadian mayors are afraid the decision to allow Waukesha to "borrow" water from Lake Michigan opens the possibility of future water wars between Canada and the United States.

The Current debates all sides of this controversy. 

  • Keith Hobbs, mayor of Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Shawn Reilly, mayor of Waukesha, Wisconsin
  • Robert Sandford, chair of the Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health

This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese, Peggy Lam, and Josh Bloch