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Re: E-M:/ Message for the President: Great Lakes are Not for Sale

Enviro-Mich message from Rane Curl <ranecurl@engin.umich.edu>

On Wed, 18 Jul 2001, James Clift wrote:

> The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) today denounced President
> Bush’s statement that he wants to talk to Canadian Prime Minister
> Chretien about piping Canadian water to the parched southwest.  The
> Great Lakes – which we share with Canada - represent 95% of North
> America’s fresh water and are therefore at risk of being the target of
> diversion.

And an article in the Detroit Free Press just said the Great Lakes contain
"20% of the world's supply of fresh surface water". These statistics, 95%
and 20%, miss the point and, in fact, divert attention from what matters,
which is the supply, not the volume. Supply is solely runoff, not how much
is stored. It is nice, and an interesting fact, that the Great Lakes hold
a large volume of water, but we cannot use that water and maintain the
volume (level) - we can only use that which falls as rain and runs off
into the lakes (and isn't evaporated).

The average flow of the St. Lawrence River is ca. 7,000 m^3/s (cubic
meters per second). However the average flow of the Mississippi is about
15,000 m^3/s - and that of the Amazon is about 200,000 m^3/s. The fresh
water *supply* from the great lakes is probably only a low percentage of
that of the United States, and certainly less than 1% of the world's

It is this fact, the LIMITS to the fresh water supply in the Great Lakes
watershed, that should be emphasized, not the storage volume.

--Rane L. Curl

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