Ontario, Quebec and all eight states that border the Great Lakes have released
a draft version of a long-awaited Great Lakes Annex 2001 Implementing Agreements to manage water use and limit water diversion from the Great Lakes Basin.
The proposed agreement would prevent bulk movement of water by requiring the unanimous consent of the states and provinces for large diversions. It would, however, allow for the borrowing of water from the five Great Lakes to areas in the region that are outside the basin, but prevent it from heading to other areas, such as the U.S. southwest. (Borrowed water must be cleaned and to the system.)
Critics of the Annex have stated that the process of developing the pact has been driven by political agendas and the fear of legal challenges rather than a desire for a broad environmental management plan. In addition, the Annex will only apply to new withdrawals, raising concerns that the pact will do little to protect an ecosystem already in jeopardy.
Public hearings will be held over the next 90 days in Canada and the United States. The agreement then needs to become law on both sides of the border. If the new Great Lakes Charter Annex becomes law, it will be a binding agreement among the governments in Canadian provinces and US states. The significance of this is that if a state violates the new law, the provinces will have standing in U.S. courts.
View the Council of Canadians Press Release
View the CBC Online news story
Visit the International Joint Commission Web Site
Sources: CBC Online News, Council of Canadians