Michigan moves on lake-water control
By Tom Henry
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholmís proposal to begin regulating
water withdrawals in her state could finally bring Michigan
into compliance with a charter that each of the Great
Lakes states signed in 1985.
And it could create momentum for a new effort Ohio Gov.
Bob Taft has been leading to assert regional control over
the worldís largest source of fresh surface water.
"Almost 20 years later, it is an embarrassment that
we are the only state that hasnít lived up to its end
of the bargain," Ms. Granholm said in a sweeping,
eight-page speech about water yesterday to the Michigan
Most of Michiganís boundaries are made up of Great Lakes
water, but it is the only Great Lakes state that never
had followed through on a number of promises Great Lakes
governors made under a 1985 charter - their first cohesive
effort to keep Great Lakes water from being diverted or
transferred out of the region in bulk.
Among other things, Michigan never registered all water
users of 100,000 gallons per day or more. Those typically
include golf courses, municipal sewage plants, power plants,
and factories. The state also failed to set clear objectives
for water conservation, said Dick Bartz, chief of the
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Water.
"Itís been a tremendous sticking point among the
other states that Michigan was never really in compliance,"
Noah Hall, water programs manager for the National Wildlife
Federationís Great Lakes office in Ann Arbor, said.
Annex 2001, a proposed regional water pact named after
the year in which the latest effort was agreed upon in
principle, would upgrade the 1985 charter to reflect changes
in international law, such as the North American Free
A team of legal experts consulting governors recommended
the upgrade to brace the region for the possibility that
water someday could become viewed by courts as a commodity
as tradable as oil.
The Council of Great Lakes Governors, chaired by Mr.
Taft, is expected to reconvene this year to finalize Annex
2001. They hope to show the U.S. and Canadian federal
governments that the region is capable of managing the
Great Lakes by itself, officials have said.
Further questions about Annex 2001 have been raised in
the wake of the high-profile Nestle Ice Mountain flap
and its focus on groundwater.
Under Ms. Granholmís proposal, permits would have to
be obtained by new industries using more than 2 million
gallons a day in a month or 100 million gallons a day
in a year. The permit holders would be subject to review
for environmental impact.
Nestle Ice Mountain, which withdraws up to 576,000 gallons
daily, would be grandfathered in with other pre-existing
industries, officials said.
The standard would be stronger than Ohioís, where there
still is no restriction on water withdrawal, Mr. Bartz