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GLIN==> "action agenda" on water quantity issues



Posted on behalf of Reg Gilbert <reg@mail.glu.org>

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Great Lakes United Sustainable Waters Watch # 13

Week of December 20, 2002

AN "ACTION AGENDA" FOR RESTORING THE BASIN WATER SYSTEM

Background

Over the last two years Great Lakes basin leaders and citizens have been
discussing an all-out effort to fully restore the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence
River ecosystem. As a result, Great Lakes United and several basin partner
groups are developing an "Action Agenda" to either 1) help guide any
 future
official restoration effort, or, if current official momentum slows, or 2)
establish the basis for a unified campaign by basin environmental groups to
advocate for a comprehensive restoration effort.

Once fully discussed and agreed to by a wide range of basin
environmental interests, we plan to partner with other groups to
disseminate this agenda as broadly as possible, both as a tool for
grassroots action and as a measure against which we can collectively
evaluate official restoration policy and program proposals.

We would very much like to hear your opinions on this material --
what you think is good, flawed, or missing in the draft agenda. Please
respond to one of the listed partners below. We would like to have
basinwide comment on this draft gathered by January 15.

Water quantity and the "Action Agenda"

Below is that part of this overall draft agenda that deals with
"sustainable water withdrawal and use," that is, with all those human
practices that effect the natural quantity or flow of the waters of the
Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River basin. The full agenda, with additional
components that address the subjects of green energy, toxic sediment
cleanup, clean industrial production, and biodiversity and habitat
protection,  can be accessed online at http://www.glu.org/aa/aamain.htm.

We are looking for all forms of participation in the refinement of
this agenda: 1) emailed suggestions for change or addition, 2) joining
Great Lakes United's Sustainable Waters Task Force to be part of more
frequent email comment opportunities, or 3) joining the waters
agenda-writing and -editing committee to have hands-on involvement,
including conference calls, in finalizing the document.

Thank you for your time in looking over this draft agenda.

Getting involved

For more information or to help refine this agenda, please contact any of
these people:

o       Derek Scheer, Wisconsin Environmental Decade, 608-251-7020,
dscheer@environmentaldecade.org
o       Sarah Miller, Canadian Environmental Law Association, 416-960-2284,
millers@olap.org
o       Reg Gilbert, Great Lakes United, 716-886-0142, reg@glu.org


Sustainable Waters Action Agenda
Draft - December 20, 2002
Introduction

The growing shortage of water in parts of North America and around the
world points to a time when the Great Lakes -- nearly 20 percent of the
world's available fresh surface water -- are seen as a potential source of
water for the world=92s thirsty nations. Continental political power is
shifting to water short areas in the south and west. The current wasteful
water consumption rates and general lack of significant water conservation
programs in the Great Lakes basin provide little rational basis for turning
down possible future requests to export or divert basin water.

The terms "basin" and "basin water system" as used in this section
of the action agenda refer to the wetlands, streams, rivers, and lakes of
the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River surface basin, plus the groundwater,
whether located inside or outside the surface basin line, that contributes
to them.

The following are restoration goals for the Great Lakes - St.
Lawrence region under consideration by the sustainable waters action agenda
committee:

Conservation

-- A basinwide commitment and plan by 2004 to reduce basin human water
consumption to levels consistent with the lowest consumption rates found
among the world's economically developed countries

--State, provincial, and federal support for infrastructure and
conservation programs for basin public water supply systems should assure
that no more than 10 percent of water withdrawn from basin lakes, rivers,
streams and the ground is lost through leakage, evaporation, or other
vectors

Water withdrawal reform ("Annex 2001")

-- Completion and implementation by all basin governments of a binding
water withdrawal reform agreement such as that proposed by principles in
the provincial-state "Great Lakes Charter Annex," also known as "Annex
2001." The agreement should base water withdrawal decisions on ecosystem
protection and restoration and cover all basin waters: streams, rivers,
lakes, and all the groundwater that contributes to them

-- A permanent ban on water diversions between in-basin watersheds

-- Inclusion of First Nations and Tribes in any basinwide water
withdrawal decisionmaking body

-- Removal of federal, tribal, state, and provincial subsidies for
water infrastructure that supports sprawl

-- A federal backup plan for protecting the basin water system if the
states, provinces, and tribes fail to cooperatively reach agreement by 2004

Alteration of the water system

-- Inclusion of protecting local natural water systems as a core goal
of municipal and regional master plans

-- An end to dredging navigation channels beyond depths set by
international agreement

-- Study of the environmental benefits and economic feasibility of
restricting oceangoing ships to the upper reaches of the St. Lawrence River

-- Restore where feasible free-flowing waters in basin tributaries
through targeted small dam removal

Restoration plan

-- A long-term plan written by 2005 and implemented by 2015 by the
states, provinces, First Nations and Tribes, and federal governments for
restoring natural water flows and other functions of the basin water system

-- Submission by Canada and the United States of a reference to the
International Joint Commission to assess, every four years, regional
progress toward restoration of the Great Lakes basin water system

Information

-- An expedited program to map all basin groundwater watersheds and
their current and projected levels due to human water withdrawal

-- A uniform state, provincial, First Nations and Tribal information
collection system for determining 1) human water withdrawals on the basis
of major watersheds within the basin, and 2) water connectivity and
movement in the basin via gauge installation and monitoring, more detailed
surface watershed mapping, and interpretive research programs

-- A uniform, biennially updated, state, provincial, and tribal
information reporting system for listing 1)basin water conservation
practices, 2)world best water conservation practices, 3)knowledge of
ecosystem impacts of basin water withdrawals and system alterations, and
4)efforts to restore damage caused by withdrawals and alterations

Climate change

-- An expedited international research program that, by 2007, allows
basin climate scientists to be more specific about the predicted effects
that climate change will have on the basin water system through the end of
the century

-- Creation of long-term water management plans that address the full
range of climate change scenarios offered by regional climate change
scientists

-- Adoption by the region's governments of commitments and initiatives
that go significantly beyond the goals of the Kyoto Protocol

International agreements

-- Exclusion of water-related services from amended or new
international trade agreements to which Canada and the United States are,
or will be, signatories

-- Support by Canada and the United States for amendments to existing
or new international that support cooperation among nations in managing
water withdrawals and water system alterations on the basis of protecting
ecosystem functioning

The public

-- Government adoption of the principle that every basin citizen has
the right to sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and bathing, and the
right of access to water bodies that support safe swimming and subsistence
activities such as fishing

-- The right of the public to 1) have access to all government water
withdrawal and use information, 2) assess and officially comment on all
government decisions to grant water withdrawal permits, and 3) challenge
all permitting decisions once they are finalized on the basis of their
consistency with local law and regional agreements

Questions for readers

The aim of the "Action Agenda" drafting process is to provide a platform
agreed to by most Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River environmental activists
and groups for how comprehensive restoration should look.

We welcome any specific comment you would like to make on the
agenda as a whole (see introductory material for online access), but
particularly to the =93sustainable waters=94 portions of the agenda detailed
above.

However, we also have a general questions we would like to hear
your response to:

1.      Of the issues listed above, what would be the top three issues you
think should be stressed in any short-form version of the agenda? That is,
what should be the top priorities of any future restoration effort?

Thanks so much for your attention to this effort. We hope to hear from soon.

Great Lakes Sustainable Waters Watch is produced by Great Lakes United's
Sustainable Waters Task Force with support from the Charles Stewart Mott
Foundation, the Hahn Family Foundation, The John R. Oishei Foundation, The
Seymour H. Knox Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, and the members and
donors of Great Lakes United. The task force is committed to protecting and
restoring the natural quantity and flow of water in the Great Lakes - St.
Lawrence River ecosystem. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or send stories,
contact Reg Gilbert at reg3@glu.org or (716) 886-0142, fax: -0303. Visit us
on the Web or become a member of Great Lakes United at www.glu.org


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