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E-M:/ Great Lakes Author: Michigan Hypocrisy Could Kill Great Lakes Compact



Hugh McDiarmid Jr., Michigan Environmental Council: 248-660-4300

Grenetta Thomassey, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council: 231-838-5193

Brian Beauchamp, Michigan League of Conservation Voters: 734-904-9915


April 3, 2008

For Immediate Release



Great Lakes Author, Historian: Michigan’s Hypocrisy May Kill Great Lakes Compact

Analysis shows Michigan must act swiftly, aggressively to protect water from withdrawal and establish conservation practices



Great Lakes historian and author Peter Annin, in an article in today’s Detroit Free Press, warns that the eight-state Great Lakes Compact water protection pact may fail – partly due to Michigan’s historical hypocrisy in blocking withdrawals while failing to respect or conserve its own water resources.


The analysis painfully illustrates the need for Michigan legislators to enact strong state water protection laws along with their approval of the Great Lakes Compact.


The urgency was elevated this week when Ohio’s Lt. Governor, Lee Fisher, suggested that Great Lakes water might be sold to buyers in other parts of the nation.


“If the Compact fails, federal protection against Great Lakes diversions hangs by a tenuous legal thread,” said Hugh McDiarmid Jr. of the Michigan Environmental Council. “There are plenty of people and entities outside the Great Lakes waiting for that legal thread to snap.


“If Michigan’s legislature approves strong laws to keep our water where it belongs, it will be their everlasting legacy that they established a firewall against future abuse of our water resources whether the Compact becomes law or not.”


Annin gives the Compact a 50 percent chance of passage. Four states have passed it. Michigan and Pennsylvania are expected to approve it, while it has run into roadblocks in Wisconsin and Ohio. If approved, it would need Congressional approval and the President’s signature to become law.


Annin said suspicion over Michigan’s historical double-talk has helped fuel opposition in Ohio and Wisconsin. Michigan has strenuously opposed – and even legally blocked – proposed diversions outside the Great Lakes. The hypocrisy became apparent, however, when our state then failed to establish meaningful water conservation practices and flaunted its lack of water regulations.


Proposed state legislation would change that image by establishing conservation rules within the state, protecting Michigan’s streams and inland lakes from excessive withdrawals.


The Great Lakes, Great Michigan coalition – numbering more than 60 organizations and businesses – supports House legislation that comes closer to achieving the stringent protections that Michigan needs.


Competing legislation introduced in the Senate is far less protective, failing to designate groundwater as a public resource, foregoing public input into large-scale water withdrawal plans and allowing up to 25 percent of some stretches of Michigan streams to be drained with minimal or no oversight.


“Because Michigan is the only state entirely within the Great Lakes drainage basin, we have the most to gain from the Great Lakes Compact, and the most to lose if we do not establish our own standards,” said Dr. Grenetta Thomassey, Policy Director at Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. “We are hopeful our legislators act to ensure that water users within Michigan do not drain rivers and dry up wetlands.”


The Free Press’ article with Annin’s analysis can be found at: