Undercurrents: beneath the obvious

April 10, 2007

Great Lakes Agreement Has Its Own Leaks

Preventing long-range diversions out of the Great Lakes basin is critical for the protection of the lakes and their dependent ecosystems and that is what the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Sustainable Water Resources Agreement seeks to do as it winds its way through the legislative process — the pact is between Ontario, Quebec and the eight U.S. Great Lakes’ states.

But even though the proposed legislation bans diversions out of the basin, it still permits large-scale diversions between individual Great Lakes within the basin. Diverting water out of the Upper Great Lakes into the Lower Great Lakes will only compound the effects of lowered water levels of the Upper Great Lakes, such as Lake Huron/Michigan.

Two examples:

  • The Regional Municipality of York, Ontario wants to build a pipeline to divert waste water from growing communities in the Lake Huron watershed to Lake Ontario.
  • Waterloo, Ontario says it needs to divert water from Lake Huron because it is running out of local water supplies.

For Lake Huron/Michigan, the impacts of the in-basin diversion would be just as harmful as if the water was being diverted outside the Great Lakes Basin.

For information on the Compact: Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact

For information on the progress of the legislative process see the April update.

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