From the Alliance for the Great Lakes:
President George Bush on October 3 signed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, endorsing sweeping protections for the Great Lakes that culminate a decade’s-worth of work by conservationists, government agencies, businesses, the public, as well as countless local, state and federal leaders.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes and the National Wildlife Federation — both engaged in the compact from the start — applauded the many efforts that made today’s historic signing possible.
“This is a great day for the Great Lakes,” said Alliance President Cameron Davis. “What started as just a ripple in 1998 when the region beat back a Great Lakes water grab has given rise to a cascade of support for these waters both in the region and across the country.”
“With President Bush’s signature, we’ve given notice that the Rust Belt is turning into the Blue Belt, where our freshwater defines our economic future,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the Great Lakes office of the National Wildlife Federation. “In this time of financial crisis, we are blessed to have the Great Lakes as assets that will remain the foundation of our region’s future.”
The eight-state water management pact protects the nation’s largest fresh surface water resource from depletion and diversions. Together with companion laws in the
Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the compact stresses conservation and establishes first-of-its-kind decision-making standards for Great Lakes water use.
“Protection of our Great Waters is not a partisan issue, it’s an America issue,” said Marc Smith, Great Lakes state policy manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “This signing reflects the commitment to protecting one of America’s greatest natural resources—the Great Lakes—for our children and for generations to come.”
Before winning approval from the U.S. House of Representatives in September and the U.S. Senate in August, the compact was approved by the legislatures of the Great Lakes states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
The Great Lakes contain more than 90 percent of the fresh surface water in the United States, and 20 percent of the world’s supply. Seemingly abundant, less than 1 percent of the Great Lakes water is renewed each year, however, leaving the lakes vulnerable to depletion.
Work on the compact began 10 years ago when the Great Lakes governors convened a binational task force and advisory committee to respond to the threat of water diversions to Asia.