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E-M:/ ACTION ALERT: IJC Bulk Water Export Hearings

Enviro-Mich message from Great Lakes United <glu@glu.org>



The Canada-U.S. International Joint Commission will hold hearings in
mid-March to investigate problems posed by the use, diversion, and bulk
export of Great Lakes water.

If you are concerned about the fate of our Great Lakes waters, please come
and be heard at the hearing nearest you. The hearings will be held between
March 17 and March 25 in:

Chicago, Illinois
Cleveland, Ohio
Duluth, Minnesota
Montréal, Québec
Rochester, New York
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Toronto, Ontario
Windsor, Ontario
(see below for hearing details).


The export of Great Lakes water in bulk was elevated to international
importance last spring, when the Ontario provincial government gave the
Nova Group permission to take 600 million liters of water from Lake
Superior per year for export to Asia. After unexpected publicity and
tremendous public outcry, Ontario canceled the permit. However, U.S. and
Canadian federal officials and several U.S. states remain alarmed by the
long-term implications of growing pressure for water export.

The general provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which
treats water as a commodity, and a $468 million NAFTA lawsuit against
Canada by a California company because British Columbia banned bulk water
export, have also heightened federal interest.

Last month the Canadian and U.S. federal governments asked the IJC to study
the broad issues of water use, water consumption (water lost to the
ecosystem during use), and water diversions, including bulk export.
Hastening a study process that usually takes years, the governments asked
the IJC to report on the bulk export issue within six months.

Each hearing will be hosted by members of a study board appointed by the
IJC, along with some of the six IJC commissioners. Please come and speak to
these important officials. 


should be made to the commissioners and members of the study board:

1) The "Tip of the Iceberg" or the "Slippery Slope" 

The world market for clean, fresh water is already large and promises to
grow exponentially in coming decades. If established, bulk trade in Great
Lakes water will assume its own economic and political momentum, with the
eventual possibility of affecting both the levels and quality of  Great
Lakes water.

2) Water Removals Are Environmentally Harmful

The natural flow of water into and out of the Great Lakes supports fish and
wildlife in numerous, barely understood ways. Changing water levels and
flows will have unpredictable and probably harmful consequences for Great
Lakes ecosystems. The Great Lakes and all world communities must learn to
live within the limits of their watersheds. Far from exporting water, we
should be better conserving the water resources we have.

3) Bulk Water Export Will Not Create Jobs

As demonstrated by today’s logging and mining operations, modern resource
extraction efforts can be carried out by just a few employees operating
large pieces of equipment. Bulk water export will have little economic
benefit for Basin communities while ultimately threatening the viability of
high-employment recreation, tourism and other Basin industries that require
natural water levels and good water quality.

4) Bulk Water Export Will Not Significantly Benefit Water-Starved Countries

Even large-scale water export cannot possibly satisfy the social and
economic needs of distant societies. Instead, exported water will allow
national elites around the world to assure the quality of their own
drinking water supplies, while permitting them to ignore the pollution of
their local waters and the waste of their water management systems.

5) The Great Lakes Should Set a Conservation Standard for the World

If we wish to assert that world communities must live within the limits of
their watersheds, we should set the example by creating the finest
watershed protection regime in the world. Though flawed, Great Lakes
pollution-fighting efforts are world models; to protect our waters, Great
Lakes water conservation efforts should be even more rigorous.


will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Attendees will have five minutes
to speak.

Cleveland—Wednesday, March 17
Wyndham Cleveland Hotel, 1260 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, Ohio, (216) 615-7500

Montréal—Wednesday, March 17
Marriott Château Champlain, 1 Place du Canada, Montréal, Québec, (514) 878-9000

Chicago—Thursday, March 18
Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago, Illinois, (312) 726-7500

Toronto—Thursday, March 18
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 225 Front St. W., Toronto, Ontario, (416) 597-1400

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario—Monday, March 22
Ramada Inn, 229 Great Northern Rd., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, (705) 741-0316

Windsor—Tuesday, March 23
Cleary Centre, 201 Riverside Dr. W., Windsor, Ontario, (519) 252-8311

Duluth—Wednesday, March 24
Radisson Duluth Harborview, 505 W. Superior St., Duluth, Minnesota, (218)

Rochester—Thursday, March 25
Marriott-Airport, 1890 West Ridge Rd., Rochester, New York, (716) 225-6880


may also be submitted at the public hearings, or to the IJC offices during
the course of the investigation. Write to:

Secretary, Canadian Section, International Joint Commission
100 Metcalfe Street, 18th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5M1 
Fax: (613) 993-5583, Commission@ottawa.ijc.org 
Contact: Fabien Lengellé, (613) 995-0088

Secretary, United States Section, International Joint Commission
1250 23rd Street NW #100, Washington, DC 20440
Fax: (202) 736-9015, Commission@washington.ijc.org
Contact: Frank Bevacqua (202) 736-9024


The International Joint Commission is a binational Canada-U.S. organization
established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. The IJC manages the
shared boundary waters of the Great Lakes for the purposes of navigation,
power generation, and drinking water supply. The commission also monitors
the progress of the two governments in fulfilling their obligations under
the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. For more information on the
commission, see the IJC web site, http://www.ijc.org.

For more information on the government "reference" to the IJC to study
problems posed by the use, diversion, and bulk export of Great Lakes water,
see http://www.ijc.org/boards/ cde/cdefront.html. Click "Responsibilities"
to see a copy of the reference itself.

Additional information on the bulk water export issue can be found at the
Web sites of 1) Great Lakes United: http://www.glu.org, 2) the Canadian
Environmental Law Association: http://www.web.net/cela, and 3) the Council
of Canadians: http://www.canadians.org.

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