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The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, home to a fragile fishery, and delicate shoreline beaches and dunes. They are also central to northern Michigan tourism, economies and our way of life.

Michigan holding first meeting to decide if Wisconsin city gets Great Lakes water

Only 17 miles from Lake Michigan's shore, Waukesha, Wisconsin, wants to replace its irradiated drinking water with water from the lake.
Only 17 miles from Lake Michigan's shore, Waukesha, Wisconsin, wants to replace its irradiated drinking water with water from the lake.
Only 17 miles from Lake Michigan's shore, Waukesha, Wisconsin, wants to replace its irradiated drinking water with water from the lake.
Credit flickr user Rachel Kramer / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM
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Only 17 miles from Lake Michigan's shore, Waukesha, Wisconsin, wants to replace its irradiated drinking water with water from the lake.

Our conversation with Peter Annin

Should a Wisconsin city with a contaminated groundwater supply be allowed to siphon drinking water from Lake Michigan?

Waukesha's groundwater supply has a radium problem. Being 17 miles from Lake Michigan, Waukesha's proposed solution is to draw water from the lake. 

But according to the Great Lakes Compact, Waukesha cannot just lay down a pipeline and start drinking Lake Michigan water. It has to ask, and all eight Great Lakes governors have to say "yes."

Today, the State of Michigan is holding a public hearing on Waukesha's request. 

Peter Annin wrote a book about all of this called the Great Lakes Water Wars. He also co-directs the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. 

Annin tells us about the situation in Waukesha and the city's proposed plan in our conversation above. 

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