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Great Lakes Article:

Agreement would ban Great Lakes diversions
Canadian Press
Posted on on November 23, 2005

OTTAWA A draft deal among Great Lakes states and provinces would ban large-scale diversions from the lakes but permit withdrawals by the bottled-water industry and for other purposes.

The complex deal would allow for projects that withdraw up to 19 million litres of water a day at the discretion of the jurisdiction.

The deal, released Wednesday, would also allow the export of water in containers of up 25.9 litres, which critics say clears the way for major water exports in the form of bottled water.

"The current deal claims to protect the Great Lakes from the threats and impacts of diversions while allowing large withdrawals to continue," said Susan Howatt, national water campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

She said the deal would severely weaken Canadian sovereignty over the lakes, noting that Ontario and Quebec are outnumbered by the eight Great Lakes states.

Howatt said protection of the Great Lakes should be regulated by the International Joint Commission, a binational agency in which Canada and the United States are equally represented.

But many environmental groups support the deal.

Mary Muter of the Georgian Bay Association said it is preferable to deal with the issue at the state-provincial level because the Great Lakes governors have a greater interest in protecting the lakes than the U.S. federal government.

Muter said pressure for Great Lakes diversions will grow in the future as political power in the United States shifts to thirsty southern states, and it is therefore wise to act now. She said she is supporting the deal while holding her nose.

The agreement must still be passed by legislatures in the eight states and provinces.

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