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Great Lakes Article:

Residents offer views on future of Great Lakes
Comments sought for water-use, cleanup proposals
By Paul Brinkmann
Green Bay Press Gazette
Published August 30, 2005

ASHWAUBENON — It’s the grapefruit tree that really bothers Curt Andersen.

A family member of Andersen’s moved to Sun City, Ariz., to get away from pollen and northern winters. He started growing grapefruit with the aid of a round-the-clock sprinkler system.

“He’s living in the desert and he’s got a drip hose that runs all time,” Andersen said.

That’s why Andersen came to a meeting Monday night about the Great Lakes. Like many others in the crowd of 60 people, Andersen wants policies to protect lake water from being siphoned off by other states.

The meeting on Monday was the final public hearing about the Annex 2001 Implementing Agreements, a list of agreements between eight states and two Canadian provinces on how the lake will be used and protected.

Hundreds of similar hearings have been held around the region to get public feedback. After final changes to the agreements, the document will be sent to Congress and all eight states and their Canadian counterparts to be ratified.

Comments were also taken at the meeting for another big Great Lakes effort reaching its final stages — the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, which would coordinate cleanup efforts on the state and federal level and seek more funding for the lakes.

Andersen’s comments applied to both projects.

“Our water is only valuable if we don’t sell it,” he said.

Most of the speakers at the hearing applauded the efforts to protect the lakes. But some pointed out areas of the agreements that could be stronger. Some said penalties for breaking the rules should be stiff.

Roger Kuhns, a geologist from Egg Harbor, noted that the agreements don’t address pumping water from deep wells near the Great Lakes Basin.

“People pumping wells near the basin can reduce aquifers connected to the lakes, and possibly lower the lake level,” Kuhns said.

Betty Fierros of Green Bay said she found what appeared to be raw sewage on the beach in Algoma recently.

“What I’m concerned about is that nothing will happen,” Fierros said. “This is coming from some place. We’ve been asking these questions a long time now.”

In the United States, the Implementing Agreements are being handled by the Council of Great Lakes Governors, which is headed by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.

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