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Fisheries along Waukesha Diversion Plan location are positive, residents voice concerns


Waukesha has been given permission to pull water from Lake Michigan, but now the city is trying to figure out where it will happen. The decision will have a wide-reaching impact on cities and industries, even outside of the Waukesha area.


One of the routes Waukesha is considering would send treated water through the Root River in Racine. While fisheries along the river said the diversion could be helpful to facilities along the river, others are still worried about what the project could mean down the road.


The Root River Steelhead Facility, which is along the river, had an event Saturday to show residents what they can do, like collecting salmon and trout for reproduction. Many believe events like these can help the Racine community become more educated on the fishing industry in the area. 


“It's important to let the community know that it's here and what it's about,” said President of Salmon Unlimited of Wisconsin Chris Strege.


Strege said the Waukesha Diversion Project wouldn't help salmon reproduction, but could help in other ways.


“I do see some positive things for the fish and the fishery itself,” Strege said.


The Department of Natural Resources said waters levels along the river were low, until rain this past week. DNR Great Lakes District Fishery Supervisor Bradley Eggold said the diversion could change that.


“When we're talking about just salmon and trout, the impact through our facility is probably going to be beneficial because there is going to be more water coming down the Root River right where we need it.” Eggold said.


However, local environmental groups are concerned.


“Environmental advocates have found this an issue because fresh water is already a rare resource in itself,” Mira Yi of the Greater Racine Water Council said.


Another big concern for the group is pollution. Yi said the current treatment system may not be able to handle it. Some residents also worry about contamination.


“There's good and bad with it, but I just want to make sure there are safe guards,” Racine Resident James Strom said. “And that the effluents from the deep wells won't end up in the Root River.”


Strom is keeping an open mind, while sharing concerns on a controversial plan that's far from over.


On Tuesday October 17, the Waukesha City Council will meet in a closed session to talk about the possible purchase of public property and negotiations for the purchase.

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