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Great Lakes water export scheme abandoned

For immediate release
November 24, 1998

Great Lakes Commission calls for basin water resources management

Great Lakes water export scheme abandoned

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, company has abandoned a
controversial plan to export Great Lakes water to overseas markets.  The
Nova Group, Ltd., had received a Lake Superior water withdrawal permit
from the Ontario Ministry of Environment in April 1998, with the
objective of establishing an export industry serving Asian markets.  The
permit was canceled soon thereafter following an outcry from the Great
Lakes Commission and other regional interests alarmed by the absence of
consultation and the prospective environmental implications and legal
precedent associated with the permit.  The Nova Group appealed the
cancellation and, prior to abandoning the appeal on Nov. 20, had been
facing a Dec. 7 hearing before the Ontario Environmental Appeal Board.

 “The eight member states of the Great Lakes Commission are pleased that
successful closure has been brought to this ill-advised scheme,”  stated
Dr. Michael J. Donahue, executive director of the Great Lakes
Commission.  “U.S. and Canadian governments at all levels have invested
tens of billions of dollars in cleaning up and managing our precious
water resources for a variety of uses within—not outside—the Great Lakes
basin.  Any effort to sanction a water export industry is simply bad
public policy.”

 The Ontario Ministry of Environment was joined by the Canadian
Environmental Law Association and Great Lakes United as parties for the
hearing.  The Great Lakes Commission received participant status in
support of the Ontario government’s action to cancel the water
withdrawal permit.

 “Our argument is a compelling one,” states Irene Brooks, a Pennsylvania
official and elected chair of the Great Lakes Commission. “The permit
was issued in the absence of any consultation with the Great Lakes
states, and long-standing water management agreements and consultation
mechanisms were ignored.  The Ontario government acted appropriately by
canceling the permit.”
 The threat of harmful, out-of-basin diversion is a perennial concern of
the Great Lakes Commission, which tracks water use throughout the
binational Great Lakes basin and establishes and advocates responsible
public policy.  The Commission, in a recent resolution endorsed by its
eight member states, called for development of a Great Lakes Water
Resources Management Program to provide the data, information, guidance
and decisionmaking process needed to ensure a consistent, basinwide
approach to water quantity management.

 “This recent experience should serve as a wake-up call for all Great
Lakes interests,” observes Donahue.  “There will be many more diversion
proposals in our future, and we must be prepared to apply legal,
scientific and policy principles in a comprehensive and consistent
manner.  The future of the resource is at stake.”


 The Great Lakes Commission is a nonpartisan, interstate compact agency
created by state and federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong
economy, clean environment and high quality of life for residents of the
eight-state Great Lakes region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota,
New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin).  The Commission consists of
state legislators, agency officials and governors’ appointees from its
member states, and also maintains a formal Observer program involving
U.S. and Canadian federal and provincial agencies, tribal authorities,
binational agencies and other regional interests.  The Commission
offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Contact:  Michael J. Donahue
Phone:  734-665-9135
Fax:  734-665-4370
Email:  mdonahue@glc.org
Web:  http://www.glc.org