The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Using water from the Great Lakes

Who can take water from the Great Lakes? What laws regulate that usage? Can our Great Lakes water be diverted to water-starved Southwestern states?

There is an agreement in place called THE GREAT LAKES COMPACT which was hammered out over many years between the eight Great Lakes states (MI, WI, OH, IN, IL, NY, PA, MN) and Canada. It was signed into law in 2008.

[A great book explaining this compact is Peter Annin's The Great Lakes Water Wars.]

To read the language of the compact, click HERE.

A recent threat to this agreement was a move to let businesses extract water from Lake Erie without seeking permits. The Plain Dealer reported:

The bill would have required businesses to seek permits if they use more than 5 million gallons of water a day from Lake Erie, 2 million gallons a day from groundwater or 300,000 gallons a day from rivers considered "high quality." Opponents said those levels were much too high -- so high that few companies would need a permit, which could lure more businesses to use the waters.

Governor John Kasich wisely (and surprisingly) vetoed this bill. He said:

"Lake Erie is an incredible resource that demands our vigilant stewardship to maximize its environmental, recreational and commercial potential for Ohioans. Ohio's legislation lacks clear standards for conservation and withdrawals and does not allow for sufficient evaluation and monitoring of withdrawals or usage."

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes. Siphoning off large quantities from this lake would have stranded boats in their docks, exposed mud flats, and stunted their tourism and recreation on the lake. And it's just bad policy to deregulate industry when it comes to our lakes. How many times will we have to learn that lesson the hard way?

Read the full article in The Plain Dealer HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment