The Great Lakes Compact essentially bans water diversions from the Great Lakes basin to other parts of the world, including the non-basin portions of Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces.
It also outlines a comprehensive water management plan that seeks a clean, sustainable supply of Great Lakes water for drinking, recreation, industry and commerce.
Current federal law effectively bans water diversions from the Great Lakes basin, which includes eight states and two Canadian provinces. But the current law lacks teeth that the compact seeks to remedy.
- It establishes criteria and procedures for decisions, in place of unilateral veto power for individual governors.
- It clarifies that groundwater is protected, along with surface waters.
- It brings Canada under its umbrella, which provides legal standing for compact-based decisions in both countries.
- And it announces to the world that the lakes are an ecosystem that requires careful management, not a reservoir to drain.
The compact is under active legislative consideration in Illinois, Ohio and New York, where one legislative chamber has already passed it.
And action is expected next year (2007) in several other states, including Michigan, which passed a long-debated water management plan this year.
Indiana’s abbreviated legislative schedule precluded formal action this year.