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GLIN==> Great Lakes Commission opposes Dakota Water Resources Act



The Great Lakes Commission has raised serious concerns with the Dakota
Water Resources Act now under consideration in the U.S. Congress. As
indicated in the following letter, the Act could set a dangerous
precedent for inter-basin water transfers that would have implications
in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region.

This letter (online at http://www.glc.org/announce/00/dwra.html) has
been sent to every member of the Great Lakes Congressional Delegation
and the chairs of the committees considering this legislation.

We invite and encourage any interested parties to contact their
representatives in Congress and express opposition to the Dakota Water
Resources Act. We'd appreciate a copy of your correspondence, if
possible.

Any questions can be directed to Mike Donahue, executive director of the
Great Lakes Commission, at 734-665-9135 or mdonahue@glc.org.

---
January 19, 2000

Dear ---:

On behalf of the eight member states of the Great Lakes Commission, I am
writing to urge you to actively and aggressively oppose the Dakota Water
Resources Act (H.R. 2918, S. 623) currently under consideration by the
Congress. The Act, which revives a controversial and ill-advised
inter-basin water diversion scheme, will result in environmental and
economic losses, compromise transboundary relations with Canada, violate
the U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, and establish a
dangerous water diversion precedent that could have adverse
implications for the Great Lakes states and provinces. Minnesota, one of
our member states, is already on record in opposition to the
legislation. Our seven other states are now on record in opposition as
well, given such precedent.

The proposed Dakota Water Resources Act re-authorizes and amends the
1986 Garrison Diversion Reformulation Act. In so doing, it allows for
the transfer of water from the Missouri/Mississippi basin across North
Dakota and into the Hudson Bay basin in Canada. Such a transfer
threatens to introduce aquatic nuisance species and chemical
contaminants into the latter, suggesting a violation of the Boundary
Waters Treaty of 1909. It also eliminates provisions protecting Canada’s
interests (such as requirements for consultation), and weakens the U.S.
federal oversight role by transferring authorities to North Dakota
officials.

Why should you be concerned as a member of the Great Lakes Congressional
Delegation? I offer three reasons for your consideration:

--> The Dakota Water Resources Act sets a dangerous precedent for
inter-basin water transfer and could open the door for unwanted
diversion/export in the Great Lakes Basin. Passage of the Act could
therefore compromise progress now being made to establish a strengthened
Great Lakes water management system via state, provincial and
U.S./Canada federal cooperation.

--> Passage of the Act would compromise U.S./Canada transboundary
relations by ignoring Canadian federal and provincial opposition and
eliminating direct consultation on the Garrison project.

--> The Act would violate the U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909
and ignore the long established opposition of the International Joint
Commission to the proposed project. This treaty, and this institution,
have critically important roles in protecting water quality and quantity
along the U.S.-Canada border. If these roles are ignored with regard to
the Garrison project, I believe the stature of the Treaty and the IJC
could be weakened with regard to any future projects in the binational
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.

I understand that S. 623 has been placed on the Senate’s unanimous
consent calendar, although Senator Wellstone of Minnesota and others
have placed a hold on it. I also understand that H.R. 2918, the
companion bill, is currently under consideration by the Water and Power
Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee.

The eight member states of the Great Lakes Commission join the federal
government of Canada, and the Province of Manitoba, in opposing the
Dakota Water Resources Act. I urge you to work with your colleagues to
oppose this ill-advised legislation with dangerous implications for the
Great Lakes states and provinces. Should you have any questions, I
invite you to contact Dr. Michael J. Donahue, Executive Director of the
Great Lakes Commission at 734-665-9135.

Sincerely,

Irene Brooks
Chair, Great Lakes Commission


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