Dec 28, 2000

Great Lakes Restriction Proposals Made

WASHINGTON--The United States and Canada should impose
stiff restrictions limiting water removal from the Great Lakes, a U.S.-Canadian
panel said.
The International Joint Commission said that before any
significant amount of water is removed from the lakes, federal, state and
provincial governments should require strong evidence that the region's
ecosystem won't be hurt.
"Removals of water from the Great Lakes Basin reduce
the resilience of the system and its capacity to cope with future, unpredictable
stresses," the commission said in reporting the results of its year-long
The study found deficiencies in water-use data, and
recommended the governments in both countries do a better job monitoring the
impact of water withdrawals.
Rain and snow now replenish water removed from the five
Great Lakes for municipal water systems, irrigation, manufacturing and other
uses. Some Great Lakes water is bottled for consumer sale, but it has never been
sold in bulk.
However, there have been discussions about selling Great
Lakes water to parched areas such as the Middle East and U.S. Southwest.
The commission report recommended moving with caution on
any new water removals, since "it is not possible at this time to identify
with any confidence all the adverse consequences."
It also gave politicians in the two nations a reassuring
interpretation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other pacts.
International trade law does not interfere with the rights
of the United States and Canada to protect the ecosystem of the Great Lakes
"so long as there is no discrimination against individuals from other
countries in the application of those measures," the panel concluded.
SOURCE: The Associated Press