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Great Lakes Article:

Dry areas eye Great Lakes water
By Rick Albin
Published February 18, 2008

KALAMAZOO - If there's one thing Michigan has, it's fresh water.

But now, the Department of the Interior is preparing a 10-year study to determine the nation's water use, supplies and future needs. The department said the study is necessary because of chronic water shortages, dramatic population growth and the potential for water conflicts.

Water diversion is not mentioned in the Interior news release, or even the Great Lakes specifically. But there's concern the Great Lakes fresh water repository is being eyed by many.

Such as those in the desert Southwest.

The $21 million study, to be undertaken by the United States Geological Survey, will "carry out the first national water census in 30 years...(and) plan for the nation's future water use." The process will also begin a nationwide assessment of water availability."

Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) was in Kalamazoo Monday to talk about the study. 

"The last thing that we want is our precious resource to go someplace else," he told 24 Hour News 8. Upton pointed out Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are still "a good number of states with sizable delegations that can block something either in the Senate of the House."

A study last week points to the possibility of one of the largest supplies of fresh water in the Southwest, Lake Mead, going dry if usage remains at current levels.

The Great Lakes region is losing population, and the desert Southwest is gaining. That means more representation in Washington to water-starved areas, and less for the Great Lakes.

The sheer numbers create concern. A new census will be taken in 2010, and will almost certainly show a migration from our area to the southwest. When the report comes out in 2019, it will be just one year in advance of another headcount.

If the trends continue, more people in areas with less water could well mean more pressure on the Great Lakes.


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