Jul 10, 2008

Great Lakes Region Unites to Approve Water Compact

All eight Great Lakes states have passed the compact, a regional agreement to promote conservation and protect the lakes from diversions outside the region

The Great Lakes states took an historic step toward protecting the lakes from water diversions when Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact on July 9.

With Granholm's signature, all eight Great Lakes states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—have now passed the Great Lakes Compact, a regional water management agreement to protect the lakes from water diversions outside the region and to promote water conservation within the region.

The compact now heads to the U.S. Congress. For it to become law, Congress must consent to the water agreement.

"There were times that I thought this day would never come," said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office and veteran of many Great Lakes Compact workgroups. "To think that all eight Great Lakes states have passed the exact same law to protect the lakes... and that the law they passed is so visionary and effective. It's taken almost ten years from beginning to end, but the results are worth it. This is a remarkable, once in a lifetime achievement. And it's due to the hard work, dedication and vision of Great Lakes state leaders like Michigan's Governor Granholm, Senator Patty Birkholz, and Representative Rebekah Warren."

Buchsbaum cautioned, "But we're not done. Now it's Congress's turn. To complete the process, Congress needs to approve what the Great Lakes states have created. Our state leaders have showed their mettle; now we look forward to our Congressional leaders stepping up. Our U.S. Representatives and Senators need to act with the same urgency that united the region to protect this national treasure from water diversion so that people, businesses and communities can depend on Great Lakes water now and generations to come."

The Great Lakes Compact is the culmination of a multiyear process of negotiations among the eight Great Lakes States.

The Great Lakes contain 95% of the fresh surface water of the U.S. Although seemingly abundant, less than 1% of the Great Lakes water is renewed each year, leaving the lakes vulnerable to degradation and depletion.

The compact will ensure that clean and plentiful water remains available to provide critical drinking water for citizens, power for the economy, affordable and efficient transportation for commerce and numerous recreational opportunities for the region's residents and tourists alike.