07/22/08 THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — A top American environmental lawyer says the fine print of an accord meant to protect the Great Lakes opens the way for the “privatization” of the world’s greatest source of fresh water.
And James Olsen tells a Toronto newspaper that Canadians should be worried.
The Great Lakes Compact, agreed to by eight U.S. states, and linked to Ontario and Quebec through a side deal, is now before the American Congress.
The pact prohibits the bulk diversion of water from the Great Lakes, but Olsen says it still allows private companies to take water out in containers, as long as they are less than 20 litres in volume.
The catch, says Olsen, is that there’s no limit on how many containers a business, such as a major bottler, can take.
He says that sets a dangerous legal precedent giving water a “product” exemption from the diversion ban on Great Lakes water.
A spokesperson for the Ontario environment ministry said Monday that people shouldn’t worry about the Great Lakes.
He told the newspaper he recognizes “many people have expressed concerns about water bottlers in Ontario, particularly multinationals taking the resource out of the watersheds,” but stressed that less then one per cent is taken by global corporations.
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