McDiarmid Jr., Michigan
Environmental Council: 248-660-4300
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council: 231-838-5193
Brian Beauchamp, Michigan
League of Conservation Voters: 734-904-9915
Great Lakes Author,
Hypocrisy May Kill Great Lakes Compact
must act swiftly, aggressively to protect water from withdrawal and establish
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.
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
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
The Free Press’ article with Annin’s analysis can be found