WAUKESHA, Wis. —
The request is the equivalent of "a teaspoon out of an Olympic-sized swimming pool," said Duchniak, which no one disputes.
But some skeptics suggest Waukesha wants a license to sprawl and others fear setting a precedent for countless other communities.
"If you do it for one, why shouldn't you do it for another?" said Keith Hobbs, mayor of Thunder Bay, Ontario, a city on Lake Superior.
The resistance illustrates how attitudes about water differ between regions, said Noah Hall, a Wayne State University law professor who helped draft the water use compact.
In the Southwest, people believe in hauling resources where they're needed. In the Great Lakes, he said. "Our culture and our legal system are based on keeping the water where it naturally occurs and using it where it's found."
There is also the economic rivalry between Milwaukee and its suburbs, which some feel have siphoned off jobs from the city.
The lake states are mostly noncommittal now, said Tim Eder of the Great Lakes Commission.
"They will be very cautious about tipping their hand until they have to."