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Great Lakes Compact: Key protections for world’s greatest freshwater resource

Michigan groups applaud Congressional action
Sep 23, 2008
Lansing, MI – Today’s Congressional passage of the Great Lakes Compact provides important new protections from large-scale water diversions and a framework for strengthening state water laws, a coalition of Michigan environmental groups said today.

The Compact bans large-scale diversions from the lakes and establishes a consensus-based process for managing the region’s waters. It also is a catalyst for state and regional water conservation measures. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a 390-25 vote today. It passed the U.S. Senate earlier this summer.

“This is an historic day for the protection of a Great Lakes system that is a global treasure,” said James Clift, policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “We are pleased that Congressional leaders from both the Great Lakes region and elsewhere recognize the importance of the Great Lakes. It says the Lakes are a national gem – like the Grand Canyon or the Florida Everglades – worthy of our defense and stewardship.”

The Compact has now been ratified by all eight Great Lakes states and both houses of Congress. It awaits President George W. Bush’s signature. He has indicated he will sign it into law.

“The importance of the Great Lakes is finally becoming a priority of Congress,” said Abby Rubley of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “The passage of the Compact coupled with the recent passage of the Great Lakes Reauthorization Legacy Act moves the importance of restoring and protecting these natural treasures to the top tier.”

The Compact is the result of years of negotiation among the eight states, according to Dr. Grenetta Thomassey of Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council: “It took a lot of hard work to pass the Compact, but it was a labor of love for the people of this region. This bold step builds upon a long, steady, solid history and legal foundation for cooperatively managing the Great Lakes among the eight states and two Canadian provinces. We take our role seriously as guardians of the lakes, and we understand that this majestic ecosystem could not survive if we remove the water.”

Michigan ratified the Compact along with other water laws specific to Michigan in June. The Michigan laws establish scientific resource-based protections for water withdrawal, create public input opportunities and require permits for large water withdrawals from lakes, streams or groundwater. They also incorporate water conservation as an integral part of Michigan’s water protections.
James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-256-0553

Abby Rubley, Michigan League of Conservation Voters: 517-420-6777

Dr. Grenetta Thomassey, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council: 231-347-1181 x115

Melissa Damaschke, Sierra Club Great Lakes Program: 313-965-0055
RELATED TOPICS: legislation, water protection
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