Great Lakes water threats are real
The Mining Journal
Published December 18, 2007
Climate change aside, building huge cities in desert regions is ridiculous. Now those parched cities are screaming for water, and many dry regions have their eye on the Great Lakes.
The threat to the Great Lakes isn’t just more of the usual environmentalist Chicken Little hysteria about the future. The threat is here today and the Great Lakes are in serious danger of being ravaged.
We therefore strongly support Michigan legislation aimed at passing a regional compact to prevent Great Lakes waters from being sent to dry states.
As reported earlier this month, the governors of eight Great Lakes states and the premiers of two Canadian provinces agreed to the compact in December 2005. The accord is a preventive measure to stop outsiders from staking a claim to Great Lakes water, as other areas in the U.S. struggle with drought conditions.
With limited exceptions, the compact would prohibit diverting water from the lakes and the rivers linking them, which together hold nearly 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface supply. The rules could affect virtually anything requiring lots of water, from sewage treatment to irrigation to manufacturing cars.
The legislation would primarily affect large-scale water operations with new or expanded water use, grandfathering in existing users as long as their water use doesn’t rise.
The legislation is not expected to be passed for several weeks, however, as state legislators wrangle with disagreements on managing water withdrawals, including how to use a newly developed, computer-based system for measuring ecological effects, according to the AP.
This legislation is too important to stay bogged down long. The Legislature needs to get this one right, and soon. Too much is at stake for politics as usual in Lansing.
The Great Lakes Compact is just one step that is needed to ensure the Great Lakes aren’t siphoned away by drought regions or to cities that continue to expand despite having no long-range plan for supplying water. As their need grows increasingly dire, they will no doubt aggressively pursue plans to drain the Great Lakes.