Undercurrents: beneath the obvious

February 13, 2007

Ontario’s commitment to Great Lakes Agreement questioned

Hat tip: Lake Ontario Waterkeeper:

The public comment period on Ontario’s proposed amendments to the Ontario Water Resources Act ends today. The amendments are supposed to make [into] law Ontario’s promise to protect Great Lakes waters in this province. They come on the heels of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (“Agreement”) …

The Agreement prohibits taking water out of the Great Lakes Basin for use in other regions (with a few exceptions). It also prohibits taking water from one Great Lake for use in another Great Lake (“Intra-Basin transfers”), unless the water is eventually returned.

Ontario’s proposed rules contain one surprise: they allow the diversion of water from one Great Lake to another Great Lake. This kind of large-scale diversion is exactly what the Agreement was originally intended to prevent.

Of all the parties to the Agreement, Ontario has the fewest incentives to conserve municipal water supplies or to protect drinking water quality. There’s always another Great Lake. We can always build a bigger pipe.

And because of our geography and our political reach, Ontario may emerge as one of the greatest threats to Great Lakes water.

This is not the way for Ontario to fulfill its commitments to the eight Great Lakes States … or to our own communities.

Additional material: Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources

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