WAUKESHA, Wis. — This city, once famous for its bubbling natural springs, sits about 17 miles from the shore of Lake Michigan. So when the state and federal authorities began demanding that the city address a growing contamination problem in its aquifer, the answer seemed simple: Get water from the big lake.

Surely, city leaders imagined, the needs of Waukesha, with a population just over 70,000, would be but a drop from the gigantic Great Lakes bucket, which amounts to one-fifth of the earth’s fresh surface water. That little drop, however, has stirred up a colossal struggle. To read the entire article.