Southwesterner tells us why we need Great Lakes Compact
The Bay City Times, MLive
Published October 24, 2007
A Southwestern candidate for president was out pandering for votes with our water while lawmakers in most Great Lakes states dozed.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson early this month told the Las Vegas Sun, ''I want a national water policy. We need a dialogue between states to deal with issues like water conservation, water reuse technology, water delivery and water production.''
''States' like Wisconsin are awash in water.''
After enduring more than a week of verbal missiles launched from Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes, Richardson took it all back. Now, the Democrat doesn't propose taking northern water and sending it to the deserts of the Southwest.
Sen. John Kerry in 2004 made a similar national water policy statement, then withdrew it, as he courted votes in his presidential bid.
Just in case, let's get cracking on the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact, signed almost two years ago by the eight Great Lakes governors and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec.
The compact aims to prevent the diversion of water outside of the Great Lakes Basin.
Legislatures in each state must ratify it before it is sent to Congress, which also needs to approve this international agreement that would keep the Great Lakes great.
The thirsty parts of the world covet these freshwater seas.
Richardson's backtracking notwithstanding, we fully understand how many people feel in the parched parts of our nation.
They covet our water.
''You can't have it,'' is what the Great Lakes Compact would say.
That stance needs to be made official.
Yet, only Minnesota and Illinois have ratified the compact by signing it into law, according to the Council of Great Lakes Governors. New York is close to ratifying it; Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania have bills pending in their legislatures; Wisconsin and Ohio have done nothing.
Some of the holdouts, even in Michigan, nitpick that the compact doesn't take every single special interest into account.
But look at the bigger picture. While people in and around the Great Lakes flyspeck this agreement, there are those out West kicking up dust for our water.
Passage of the Great Lakes Compact would say in no uncertain terms that this water, which defines our region, will stay here.
''Hell, no!'' Michigan's Gov. Jennifer Granholm replied when asked about Richardson's statement and the possibility of sending Great Lakes water south. ''The minute someone starts talking about a national water policy, watch your lakes.''
And here's an invitation, just to show that we're not being piggy with the very essense of life:
If those who moved to the desert for the warm, sunny weather want water, come on up to Michigan.
We've got all the water anybody could want.
Everyone is welcome to it.