Focus now shifts to restoring the Midwest’s most valuable natural resource

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Less than five months after Wisconsin passed the Great Lakes Compact, the U.S. Congress today officially ratified the measure, a historic agreement between eight states and two Canadian provinces to not divert water outside of the Great Lakes region.

“Wisconsin and the other Great Lakes states should be proud of this carefully constructed compromise,” said Melissa Malott, water program director at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “This Compact will help protect the Great Lakes as well as the recreation and industry they bring.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Compact today with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 390-25. President Bush pledged his support for the Compact in a statement issued in July, and is expected to sign the Compact in the near future.

“Now that the water is here to stay, we must shift our attention to restoring the quality of water in the lakes,” Malott said. “Toxic runoff, invasive species and algae blooms in the Great Lakes all exact an enormous environmental and economic toll on our region.”

A recent study found that the impact of invasive species alone costs the Great Lakes Region over $200 million annually. Non-native mussels attach themselves to boats and clog industrial infrastructure, while algae blooms create foul smells that decrease tourism and diminish property values.

“The importance of the Great Lakes to our economy and our culture cannot be understated,” Malott said. “We hope that the next president understands the importance of the Great Lakes to our region and makes restoration a top priority.”