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Great Lakes Article:

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 lakes.

The Great Lakes hold about 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water and support 40 million Canadians and Americans.

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 Lakes water.

For the report, go to: www.ijc.org/php/publications/pdf/ID1560.pdf.
CIRELAND@DemocratandChronicle.com


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