Great Lakes Water Becomes Precious
By Kari Lydersen
The Washington Post
Posted on the Canton Repository on November 2, 2005
CHICAGO--As clean, fresh water becomes an increasingly
scarce commodity in many parts of the world, the fear
is that thirsty eyes are turning toward the Great Lakes.
In 1998, a group of entrepreneurs won approval from Ontario
to export Lake Superior water to Asia. And others discussed
pumping Great Lakes water to the depleted Oglala aquifer
in the Great Plains. Neither effort went anywhere.
But given that the dry southwestern United States is developing
at a rapid clip and gaining congressional seats while
the Great Lakes region is losing them, Great Lakes governors
and Canadian premiers decided in 2001 to prevent any future
large-scale water sales.
Final drafts of two agreements that would attempt to limit
water diversions are to be finished by the end of the
Though no large-scale diversions are currently on the
table, smaller battles over water diversion are raging.
The groundwater in Waukesha, Wis., is contaminated with
radium so local officials have said they want to tap Lake
Michigan. But because the town is outside the Great Lakes
basin, it cannot access the water without approval from
all eight governors of the states bordering the lakes.
A legal fight is expected.
In Michigan, activists are furious that Nestli Waters
North America is pumping water for its Ice Mountain brand
from an aquifer that feeds Lake Michigan. A judge ordered
Nestli to stop pumping, but an appeals court sided with
Nestli. Then in May, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D, used the
rules process to require permits for pumping bottled water,
and to mandate that water pumped in Michigan cannot be
sold outside the Great Lakes basin.
``The Great Lakes are a gift left over from the glaciers
that melted over 10,000 years ago,'' said Cameron Davis,
executive director of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.
``Less than 1 percent of their water is replenished each
year through rain and melting snow. The myth was that
the Great Lakes go on forever, we know now that's not