Great Lakes will not be America’s reservoir

An agreement which defines acceptable use of water from North America's Great Lakes has been thrashed out by farmers, industrialists, environmentalists and politicians.

The Great Lakes in Northeast America are a huge natural resource but fears have been raised that piping the water to parched areas of the USA would lead to ecological disaster in the long term.

The Great Lakes Compact aims to strike a balance between the needs of the region’s industry and ecology.

With the ever-present threat of drought in Southern US states, the Great Lakes have been eyed as a possible emergency source of water.

But the compact’s authors claim it gives the lakes an unprecedented level of protection on both sides of the US-Canadian border and the main change to previous agreements is an acknowledgment that there will be no long-distance water diversions.

The legally binding compact will be signed in New Berlin, Wisconsin, on April 17 by the state Governor, Jim Doyle, and representative from New York, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

“Our Great Lakes waters in many ways define who we are,” said Governor Doyle.

“And now the Great Lakes Compact will ensure that we protect this tremendous resource while responsibly using the water we need to prosper and grow.”

The compact will provide a framework for ensuring sustainable water use in the Great Lakes basin.

Fears that the compact is an agreement of convenience which will be rewritten at the first sign of drought can be allayed by the fact that any future changes can be vetoed by a single state so must be agreed unanimously.

The Great Lakes generate $55 billion in tourism for the region and create nearly $377 million in personal income from wages and salaries.

Sam Bond

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