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E-M:/ President Signs Great Lakes Compact

October 3, 2008
Marc Smith: 734-255-5413, msmith@nwf.org  
Cameron Davis: 312-375-2004, cdavis@greatlakes.org
Jordan Lubetkin: 734-887-7109, lubetkin@nwf.org 
President Signs Great Lakes Compact
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The future of the Great Lakes is secure, with foresighted plans now locked in place to safeguard their waters and health for generations to come.
President George Bush today signed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, endorsing sweeping protections for the Great Lakes that culminate a decade’s-worth of work by conservationists, government agencies, businesses, the public, as well as countless local, state and federal leaders.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes and the National Wildlife Federation -- both engaged in the compact from the start -- applauded the many efforts that made today’s historic signing possible.
“This is a great day for the Great Lakes,” said Alliance President Cameron Davis. “What started as just a ripple in 1998 when the region beat back a Great Lakes water grab has given rise to a cascade of support for these waters both in the region and across the country.”
“With President Bush’s signature, we’ve given notice that the Rust Belt is turning into the Blue Belt, where our freshwater defines our economic future,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the Great Lakes office of the National Wildlife Federation. “In this time of financial crisis, we are blessed to have the Great Lakes as assets that will remain the foundation of our region’s future.”
The eight-state water management pact protects the nation's largest fresh surface water resource from depletion and diversions. Together with companion laws in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the compact stresses conservation and establishes first-of-its-kind decision-making standards for Great Lakes water use.
“Protection of our Great Waters is not a partisan issue, it’s an America issue,” said Marc Smith, Great Lakes state policy manager for the National Wildlife Federation.  “This signing reflects the commitment to protecting one of America’s greatest natural resources—the Great Lakes—for our children and for generations to come.”
Before winning approval from the U.S. House of Representatives in September and the U.S. Senate in August, the compact was approved by the legislatures of the Great Lakes states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. 
The Great Lakes contain more than 90 percent of the fresh surface water in the United States, and 20 percent of the world’s supply. Seemingly abundant, less than 1 percent of the Great Lakes water is renewed each year, however, leaving the lakes vulnerable to depletion.
Work on the compact began 10 years ago when the Great Lakes governors convened a binational task force and advisory committee to respond to the threat of water diversions to Asia.
The Alliance and NWF, both appointed to the advisory committee, played major roles in developing the compact and working with state and national leaders to enact the agreement.
“Now the compact begins the implementation phase in which states must launch their water conservation efforts,” Davis said of the Great Lakes states now governed by the pact.
Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes is the oldest citizens' Great Lakes organization in North America. Its mission is to conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. More about the Alliance is online at www.greatlakes.org.
The National Wildlife Federation is America’s conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.
For more information: http://www.nwf.org/greatlakes
Jordan Lubetkin
Senior Regional Communications Manager
National Wildlife Federation - Great Lakes Office
213 West Liberty, Suite 200 | Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: 734-887-7109 | Fax: 734-887-7199 | Cell: 734-904-1589
NWF's mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. www.nwf.org/news/
Working to restore the Great Lakes by offering solutions to sewage contamination, invasive species and other threats. www.healthylakes.org