Great Lakes Restriction Proposals Made

Dec. 28, 2000
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 study.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