I'd call it a diversionary tactic.I fully expect the compromise to convey about the Waukesha Water Utility the impression that they are in support of all the provisions of the Compact.
1. They will immediately press the issue with DNR, (watchers of this agency should be warned that DNR is not above secret conniving with development interests around the subject of water resources).
2. They will attempt to get a diversion approved under existing WRDA standards. Part of their argument will be that they stand foursquare behind the Compact--especially because they will not have to meet the standards, since the Compact is still "in-process".
The return flow and conservation elements of the Compact clearly worry the commissioners (and they should scare the daylights our of the rate-payers). But, this current "progress" on the Compact--what the late, great Ed Jackamonis used to call "dynamics-without-change"-- will serve to divert (that word again) attention from the real consequences, as everyone gets excited and congratulatory about this "victory".
If Waukesha gets access to Lake Michigan water, the existing rate-payers and tax-payers will bear the full and enormous cost of the infrastructure to get the water out here. We should assume the Utility will not plan for return flow; they'll assume they can finagle a way of putting partially treated sewage into the Rock and Fox rivers--a little bit back to the lake and a whole lot out of the basin forever.
They are aiming to divert 22 million gallons per day (mgd) from the lake. That is a lot more than the current 8mgd that Waukesha uses. That much additional water will eventually require upgrading and expansion of the Waukesha sewage treatment plant.
The payoff, according Water Utility Commissioner (also Mayor) Larry Nelson, will be all of the new , not-yet-built, mostly hallucinated, subdivisions and tacky strip malls annexed to the city. That's a lot of new taxes for infrastructure: new schools, roads, police, fire, sewer, trash collection, new SCHOOLS, library, parks, forestry, paramedics, leaf pick-up... (did I mention NEW SCHOOLS?).
And, what if those subdivisions don't materialize? What if we have a long and painful economic downturn/depression? What if the increase in tax base doesn't cover all of the costs?
Tough luck. It will merely be a minor miscalculation by developers and land speculators... and a huge on-going cost for the rate-payer/tax-payer.
This compromise is already beginning to stink.