Report: Great Lakes not protected
By Corydon Ireland
Democrat and Chronicle
Published August 31st, 2004
Canada and the United States are moving too slowly on
water conservation measures in the Great Lakes -- and
neither government has a good grasp of how much water
is taken out of the lakes for drinking water and by industry
and other users, a panel says.
Those are two cautions outlined today by the International
Joint Commission, a bi-national Great Lakes advisory group
that three years ago published recommendations on protecting
The Great Lakes hold about 20 percent of the world's
fresh surface water and support 40 million Canadians and
Today's report is a review of the IJC's 2000 recommendations,
and how well the two governments are doing.
Progress, the report says, is mixed.
On the plus side, a supplement to the Great Lakes Charter,
under 90-day public review until October, would tighten
regional protections against the large-scale diversion
of Great Lakes water.
On the minus side, ways of both conserving and measuring
water could improve.
On the U.S. side, states have the legal authority to
require conservation plans from water authorities using
money from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. But
New York requires no such conservation plan; nor do five
of the other seven Great Lakes states: Illinois, Indiana,
Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
As for measuring water use, the U.S. Geological Survey
has scaled back a 2000 five-year plan to collect the data,
claiming a lack of funding and scientific problems with
the terms of measurement.
The report also urges U.S. and Canadian governments to:
Step up bi-national efforts to map and investigate groundwater
in the Great Lakes. This vast, unseen water resource,
the report says, is "still a largely unstudied area."
Better assure the public that international trade agreements
will not allow large-scale commercial diversions of Great
For the report, go to: www.ijc.org/php/publications/pdf/ID1560.pdf.