Walking, or Just Talking, in New Berlin, WI

Without doubt, the adoption of a rate structure that encourages conservation over exploitation would put New Berlin, WI on the leading edge of progressive water policy in the greater Great Lakes region.

But if the Milwaukee suburb was really serious about using less water there's a case to be made that the community could likely delay or possibly even avoid the expense of extending a new pipeline to Lake Michigan.

More effective plumbing fixtures, leak detection and repair, and water metering are some of the strategies that cities like Seattle and Santa Monica have employed to keep water demand essentially unchanged even as the population grows. The moves also helped reduce municipal costs, support innovation, and maintain the vigor of natural supplies.

Yet, even as it debates a promising water-saving fee schedule, New Berlin illustrates the reflex in the greater Great Lakes region is to continually find new sources, add more pumps, construct ever-larger pipelines, and withdraw ever more water.