MADISON — With the signature of Governor Doyle today, Wisconsin approves the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement between eight state governors and two Canadian provinces not to divert water outside of the Great Lakes Region.

“The Great Lakes provide Wisconsin residents with abundant recreational opportunities, they support strong industry and foster tourism,” said Melissa Malott, Water Program Director at Clean Wisconsin. “The need for their protection is evident, and we applaud the leadership of Governor Doyle, Senator Miller and Representative Gunderson in taking an important step toward ensuring clean and bountiful Great Lakes exist for future generations to enjoy.”

The Great Lakes contain nearly one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water supply. With populated arid and drought-stricken regions seeking alternatives to supplement their local water supply, many feared the Great Lakes would become an emergency reservoir.

Clean Wisconsin has been working since 2001 to create and pass the Great Lakes Compact, from working at the international and regional level, to working with state stakeholders to help draft implementing language in Wisconsin.

“The Great Lakes Compact represents years of hard work and careful compromise,” said Mark Redsten, executive director of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “The passage of the Compact is a victory for all Wisconsinites. It is an important step in protecting the Great Lakes, our economy and our way of life,” he said.

The Great Lakes Compact requires the legislative approval of all eight Great Lakes states. Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, New York, and now Wisconsin have approved the interstate compact. Ohio is expected to approve the Compact later this week, and Michigan and Pennsylvania have Compact legislation pending. Once all the Great Lakes states have passed the Compact, it will go to the US Congress for consent, at which time it will be binding.