On December 13, 2005, the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers signed agreements at the Council of Great Lakes Governors’ (CGLG) Leadership Summit that would provide protections for the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin. The compact won’t take effect until it is endorsed by the region’s eight states and then ratified by Congress.
Changes since May update:
- Illinois Governor Blagojevich signed the Illinois legislation on August 17 becoming the second state to sign on to the Compact.
- New York Senate bill 4324 passed July 16
- Pennsylvania House bill 1705 introduced
Status by State:
Ohio and Wisconsin opposition to the Compact comes from a provision that calls for water in the Great Lakes basin to be held in “public trust” — see Ohio approval of water pact faces new snag:
- Private property owners own groundwater beneath their land.
- States might give up their sovereign right to state-owned water by agreeing to be part of a regional water board of eight states.
- Criteria for water withdrawals should be made by state legislatures and not governors as in the Compact
- Permits for withdrawals should be based on anticipated effects on watersheds, not on individual streams and tributaries within them.
- Lets citizens sue government agencies over alleged violations, such as permitting excessive water withdrawals.
The pact has had little impact in Pennsylvania, where the only part of the state adjacent to the Great Lakes is a 40-mile stretch of Lake Erie frontage in the far northwestern corner.
On the Canadian side:
- Legislation to strengthen the protection of water in the Great Lakes will be introduced Tuesday, April 3, in the Ontario legislature.
- Quebec’s National Assembly has already ratified the agreement, but hasn’t yet updated its water use laws.
For information on the Compact: Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact
Source: CGLG State Legislative Activity to Enact the Compact
Good news for Lake Superior comes from this article in the Mining Gazette:
Heavy precipitation will keep Lake Superior’s monthly average water levels out of the record book for the foreseeable future.
“Based on the new forecast we did (this month), it looks like we’re going to stay at least a few inches above the record lows at least until April and that’s due primarily to the rain that fell in September and October,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the Army Corps of Engineers Detroit office. However, water levels remain well below average, he said.
“Since the beginning of September the lake rose quite dramatically due to all the rain during the months of September and October the Lake Superior basin received well over 10 inches of rain and the lake level responded by rising quite a bit during that same time frame,” Kompoltowicz said.
The Detroit News:
Lake Superior water levels are headed toward record lows in early fall, a projection that is causing concern about an eventual trickle-down effect in the other Great Lakes as well as Lake St. Clair.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ June forecast — looking ahead to September and October — predicts Superior’s water level will dip under the record low for that time of the year. That low was set in 1925.
Water levels in lakes Huron, Michigan, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are all on track to fall below average in early autumn, according to Army Corps estimates.
Lakes Michigan and Huron receive 20 percent to 30 percent of their water from Superior.
At the same time in September that Superior is expected to hit a record low, engineers predict Huron and Michigan will be around 20 inches below normal, roughly at the same point they were last year.
Yet the outflow from Lake Superior into the lower lakes continues to be increased.
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For the second month in a row, Soo Today reports that the outflow from Lake Superior into Lake Michigan-Huron will be increased although Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan-Huron continue to be well below their long-term averages for May:
The International Lake Superior Board of Control, under authority granted to it by the International Joint Commission, has set the Lake Superior outflow to 1,530 cubic metres per second (m3/s) (54.0 thousand cubic feet per second (tcfs)) for the month of June.
This is the outflow recommended by the regulation plan for the month of June and is an increase from the May outflow, which was 1,500 m3/s (53.0 tcfs).
Currently, the Lake Superior level is about 53 cm (21 inches) below its long-term average beginning-of-June level, and is 40 cm (16 inches) below the level recorded a year ago.
This past month the level of Lake Superior rose 3 cm (1 inch), while on average it rises by 10 cm (4 inches) in May.
The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is now about 47 cm (18 inches) below its long-term average beginning-of-June level but is 8 cm (3 inches) lower than it was a year ago.
The May outflow increase was almost 9% while the International Joint Commission (IJC) proposes a study of water levels and near-historic lows in Lake Superior are turning the largest coastal wetland in the Great Lakes into dry land.
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The Chronicle Journal (Thunder Bay, Ontario) carries this update on the legislative process within Ontario to pass the Great Lakes Agreement:
A bill to protect Great Lakes water from being sold or shipped across the continent passed its final hurdle in the Ontario legislature Thursday, as all three parties voted unanimously to pass it into law.
Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay called it “a very important accomplishment,” as Ontario has taken a step toward implementing a deal signed with Quebec and eight U.S. states to institute stronger protections for Great Lakes water.
The international agreement seeks to ban transfers of water outside the Great Lakes basin to protect against other jurisdictions trying to access the resource.
Ontario’s bill also creates a new conservation charge for companies that draw a profit by tapping into the province’s water supply.
Most environmental groups applauded the government for the bill, which they say is stronger than legislation being proposed in the United States.
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on efforts to help landowners clear the gunk from beaches. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved emergency regulations that will allow Great Lakes landowners to use backhoes, front-end loaders and other equipment to scoop up organic material that piles up and slowly rots in the summer sun.
Until now, if landowners wanted to use heavy equipment, they had to spend $500 on a state permit and wait 30 days to allow the public to comment because waterways are publicly owned and managed.
Officials say a malodorous mix of plant life, invasive mussels and gull feces is getting so bad in some areas that they felt compelled to move quickly this year. Conditions are at their worst in July and August as temperatures rise.
In documents, the DNR described stretches of Lake Michigan where vegetation extended 30 feet off shore and was 2 to 3 feet deep.
The mats of vegetation may cause higher levels of E. coli and other bacteria that settle on beaches, presenting a threat to public safety …
Loon Commons reports that the Illinois Legislature has passed the Great Lakes Compact and it’s now on its way to the governor:
The Illinois Legislature has endorsed the Great Lakes Compact with Senate approval happening earlier today. The bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk, who reportedly supports it. Congratulations Illinois. Two down, six to go.
See this prior post for a Status on legislative passage of the Great Lakes Compact across all the states.
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