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GLIN==> Ontario Enacts Historic Protections for Great Lakes Basin Waters

For Immediate Release                                                  


Contact: David Naftzger

Secretary, Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River

Water Resources Regional Body

June 8, 2007         

Office: 312-407-0177      

Mobile: 847-863-1679     





Toronto, Ontario–The Ontario Government, led by Premier Dalton McGuinty, on June 4 enacted historic protections for the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.  The law implements the Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (Agreement), which includes a ban on new or increased diversions of water from the Basin, with limited exceptions.     


Premier McGuinty said, “Through its action, Ontario has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting the waters of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.  Our continued pledge is to conserve and protect our vital water resources for our children and for future generations.”  


Premier McGuinty currently serves as Chair of The Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body (Regional Body).  The Great Lakes Governors and Premiers established the Regional Body when they signed the Agreement on December 13, 2005.  The Agreement details how the States and Provinces will work together to manage and protect the waters of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin and provides a framework for each State and Province to enact laws protecting the Basin. 


Ontario’s Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario’s Water Act fulfils its commitment to pass legislation implementing the Agreement and strengthens the Province’s existing ban on diversions out of its three major water basins.  The Québec National Assembly approved the Agreement last year and is taking further steps to fully implement its terms.  To become law in the States, a companion inter-State Compact must be approved by each of the State legislatures and Congress must give its consent. 


Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Regional Body Vice Chair, said, “I applaud Premier McGuinty, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay, Environment Minister Laurel Broten and members of the Ontario Parliament for their leadership in protecting our shared resource.  This will improve and protect the health of the Great Lakes and our economy.”


Minnesota became the first State or Province to complete enactment when Governor Pawlenty signed the Compact into law in February.  Compact legislation awaits signature by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich; the Illinois legislature recently completed its ratification.  Bills are pending in Indiana, Michigan and New York and action is anticipated in coming months in the other States.


Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, Chair of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, added, “Ontario has taken an important step for our region in meeting the promises we have made.  The Great Lakes Premiers and Governors continue to take the lead in protecting North America’s water belt and strengthening our regional economy.”


The Agreement and the companion inter-State Compact include the following:

  • Lasting economic development will be balanced with sustainable water use to ensure Great Lakes Basin waters are managed responsibly.
  • There will be a ban on new or increased diversions of water from the Basin or between Great Lake watersheds.  Limited exceptions could be allowed, such as for public water supply purposes in communities along the boundaries of the Basin, but exceptions would be strictly regulated.
  • The States and Provinces will use a consistent standard to review proposed uses of Great Lakes water. 
  • Regional objectives for water conservation and efficiency will be developed, and they will be reviewed every five years. Each State and Province will develop and implement a water conservation and efficiency program to support the regional objectives.
  • The collection of technical data will be strengthened, and the States and Provinces will share the information, which will improve decision-making by the governments. 
  • There is a strong commitment to continued public involvement and engagement of First Nations and Tribes in the implementation of the agreements.


Further information on the Regional Body, the Agreement and the companion inter-State Compact can be found at


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Attachment: Regional Body Press Release 6-8-07.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document