December 12, 2005
Calls on Federal Government to Follow Through on Supportive Efforts
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced her intention to sign an agreement to protect the Great Lakes against diversion. The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement will prohibit the diversion of Great Lakes water and provide for state and provincial management and conservation of water within the Great Lakes Basin.
The agreement must be signed by the governors and premiers of other Great Lakes states and Canadian Provinces.
Granholm also announced she will ask the Michigan Legislature to approve a compact implementing the agreement. The agreement and compact are necessary to implement the 2001 Annex to the Great Lakes Charter.
“We must act now to provide the strongest possible protection for the Great Lakes,” Granholm said. “These agreements, if enacted into law, will provide historic state, provincial, and federal protections against the threat of diversion.”
The agreements are the result of the eight Great Lakes states and the Ontario and Québec provinces coming together to create unprecedented protections for the Great Lakes Basin. The new agreements will improve and protect the health and economic vitality of the Great Lakes ecosystem for future generations. Most importantly, the agreements will ban diversions with limited and strictly regulated exceptions and allow the governors to maintain their authority to veto diversion proposals.
This action comes on the heels of the Michigan Senate’s passage of water withdrawal legislation. These bills, which the Legislature has proposed to answer the Governor’s call for comprehensive water legislation will, for the first time allow Michigan to live up to its commitment under the Great Lakes Charter. This includes regulating water withdrawals over 2 million gallons per day, providing protection against diversion from the Great Lakes and creating a state-wide standard for protecting the waters of the state.
Granholm called the agreements especially important in light of today’s scheduled signing of the final Great Lakes Action Plan, a report prepared by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. While the report provides strategies for preserving and restoring the quality of the Great Lakes, the federal Interagency Task Force recently announced that no new funds would be made available to follow through on these efforts.
“It is disappointing that the federal government would recognize the importance of Great Lakes but not put a single new cent toward its long-term health at a time when Michigan and our partners are making historic efforts to ensure their long term health,” said Granholm. “I urge them to step up and provide the necessary support to follow through on this much needed initiative.”
Under the Annex agreements, the states and provinces will manage their own in-basin withdrawals using a basin-wide resource-based standard while retaining flexibility regarding its application. Each jurisdiction will commit to establishing a program, including thresholds, to manage or regulate new or increased withdrawals consistent with the standard. The legislation that recently passed the Senate takes a significant step toward putting that type of program into place in Michigan.
The documents also note that the states and provinces will more aggressively conserve and improve efficient use of the resource, will make a strengthened commitment to work with U.S. Indian Tribes and Canadian First Nations, and that public participation is maintained in the process.
The agreement among all ten states and the provinces is expected to be approved this week. Following the agreement signing, individual state and provincial legislative actions are necessary to enact the provisions of the agreement. On the United States side, upon enactment into law of a compact in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the United States Congress will be asked to ratify that document.
The agreements leave the treatment of bottled water in containers less than 5.7 gallons to each state or province. Governor Granholm has called on the Legislature to ensure that Michigan law addresses that issue.