Protecting the Great Lakes

The final ratification of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact came Oct. 3 when President Bush signed the joint resolution of Congress. The law is now on the books, even though some in Ohio who support Issue 3 – the constitutional amendment to guarantee property owners the right to reasonable use of their land (see my news article "No One Owns Water") – claim passage is needed to enact the law.

“The compact provides a comprehensive management framework for achieving sustainable water use and resource protection,” according to a pres release from the Council of Great Lakes Governors. “The eight Great Lakes states reached a similar good faith, agreement with Ontario and Québec in 2005, which the provinces are using to amend their existing water programs for greater regional consistency.”

The compact includes the following points:

  • Economic development will be fostered through sustainable use and responsible management of basin waters.

  • In general, there will be a ban on new diversions of water from the basin but limited exceptions could be allowed in communities near the basin when rigorous standards are met.

  • Communities that apply for an exception will have a clear, predictable decision making process, standards to be met and, opportunities to appeal decisions. These processes and standards do not exist under current law.

  • The states will use a consistent standard to review proposed uses of basin water. The states will have flexibility regarding their water management programs and how to apply this standard.

  • Regional goals and objectives for water conservation and efficiency will be developed, and they will be reviewed every five years. Each state will develop and implement a water conservation and efficiency program that may be voluntary or mandatory.

  • There is a strong commitment to continued public involvement in the implementation of the compact.

For more information, visit www.cglg.org.

— Margo Pierce

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