Momentum builds for implementation of historic agreement

MADISON — The Great Lakes Compact moved closer to implementation today when a joint resolution to ratify the agreement was introduced in Congress. Thirteen Great Lakes senators co-sponsored the resolution to ratify the historic agreement between eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces not to divert water outside of the Great Lakes region, including Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold from Wisconsin, and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

“The Great Lakes represent one of the most magnificent natural wonders in the nation, if not the world,” said Melissa Malott, water program director at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “The Compact is an essential tool that will help protect these invaluable lakes for future generations to enjoy. We’re happy to see members of Congress working quickly to ensure the ratification of this agreement.”

The U.S. Congress asked the Great Lakes states to develop a policy to protect Great Lakes water in the 2000 Water Resources Development Act after it was discovered that the Canadian province of Ontario permitted selling tankers full of Great Lakes water to Asia.

“The Compact represents a carefully constructed compromise that won support from nearly 95 percent of the 1300 Great Lakes state legislators who voted on the measure,” Malott said. “The Great Lakes states should be proud of the agreement. It is now the job of Congress to ratify the strong Great Lakes water protections they requested.”

Michigan became the eighth and final state to pass the Compact earlier this month. The Compact now needs only the consent of Congress to become binding.

“We thank Senators Kohl and Feingold for their whole-hearted support of the Compact and urge other members of Congress to follow their strong lead to protect one of the nation’s most magnificent resources,” Malott said.