The Waukesha Water Utility on Monday submitted its application to the DNR, to take and return Great Lakes water, starting by 2018.
The federal government is demanding Waukesha obtain a new source of drinking water by 2018, because its underground source is increasingly contaminated with cancer-causing radium.
Initially Waukesha wanted to purchase water from the City of Milwaukee, but leaders here feared Waukesha's service area would eventually expand. Its utility then turned to Oak Creek, which has agreed to a deal.
However, in order to use Lake Michigan water, Waukesha will need the permission of all the states and Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes. They signed a compact in 2005 to protect the water from being sent outside the Great Lakes basin. The customers the Waukesha utility serves live in the Mississippi River basin - their water flows toward the Mississippi River.
Waukesha will be the first community to apply for a diversion. It wants to buy about 10 million gallons of water a day from Oak Creek and return approximately the same amount via the Root River, after treatment.
The DNR will review Waukesha's application and render a recommendation in coming months.