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Great Lakes Article:

Coming: Our late Great Lakes?
Cook County News-Herald
Published September 9th, 2004

Close to four years have passed since the government of Canada and those of the U.S. states bordering the Great Lakes committed to each other to cherish their shared resource — the priceless and non-renewable waters of the Great Lakes.

In a February 2000 report issued by the International Joint Commission a number of very specific measures were recommended. Chief among them, removal of water from the lakes was to be monitored scrupulously. As the report notes, although the Great Lakes contain 20 percent of our planet’s fresh water, a paltry one percent of this vast reservoir is restored annually. Pressures to sell water to thirsty nations the world ’round multiply by the week. Our own country sprawls into lands of rock or sand without a thought.

Since the 2000 report, there has been some progress. Amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act and Regulations in 2002 prohibit water removals from Canadian boundary waters of the Great Lakes. Amendments to the U.S. Water Resources Development Act of 1986, which prohibits diversion of Great Lakes water unless approved by all eight Great Lakes state governors, encourage the U.S. states and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec to put together diversion decision standards. And on July 19 of this year, the Great Lakes states, Ontario and Quebec put out for public comment a good-faith arrangement dubbed Great Lakes Annex 2001, committing them to new decision-making standards and a support system for managed withdrawals of Great Lakes waters.

Notably, there are no active proposals for diversions outside the basin, but communities on the edge of it — New Berlin, Wis. and Lowell, Ind. — are actively seeking diversion of water to support growth. This is regarded as ominous by the commission.

Already, the International Joint Commission notes “large groundwater withdrawals in southeastern Wisconsin have reduced groundwater flow to Lake Michigan and, in some locations, have reversed flow.” In other words, parasites are sucking a Great Lake dry. This is something that cannot be sustained.

The report states that seven of 12 measures that ensure Great Lake waters integrity for future generation have not been “fully implemented” by the U.S. governments and the Canadian provinces have failed to implement six of the measures.

The Great Lakes deserve better and so do we. For more information on this report, see or write International Joint Commission, Great Lakes Regional Office, P.O. Box 32869, Detroit, MI 48232.
We cannot afford four more years of fiddling while our most precious resources dwindle.

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