Pennsylvania’s Governor Rendell Signs Historic Regional Water Agreement:
All Eight Great Lakes States Poised To Adopt Great Lakes Compact
(Harrisburg, PA)—On July 4, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell approved the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, a historic agreement to protect the Great Lakes from water diversions. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously adopted the Compact on January 28, 2008. The Senate joined the House—also with a unanimous vote—on July 3.
All eight Great Lakes states’ legislatures now have adopted the Compact. With Gov. Rendell’s signature, seven states have enacted the Compact into law. Only Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has not yet signed the legislation. She is expected to sign Michigan’s bills – passed several weeks ago – into law later this week, after which the states-approved Compact goes to Congress for federal approval.
"We applaud Pennsylvania for taking action on this vitally important bill before the end of the session,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office. “By joining six other Great Lakes States in adopting the Compact, Pennsylvania has given us the perfect Independence Day gift: independence from diversions and unwise management of Great Lakes waters."
House Bill 1705 was introduced by state Rep. Patrick Harkins (D-Erie), and sponsored by Reps. Florindo Fabrizio (D-Erie), John Hornaman (D-Erie) and others in the House. In the Senate, the bill was supported by Sens. Jane Earll (R-Erie) and Mary Jo White (R-Venango), both of whom represent the Lake Erie Watershed.
The Great Lakes Water Resources Compact is the culmination of a multi-year process of negotiations among the eight Great Lakes States. The Compact will protect Great Lakes water supplies by implementing an effective water management plan to protect against water diversions out of the basin and to promote water conservation measures within the basin. To become law, the Compact must be enacted by all eight Great Lakes States and consented to by the U.S. Congress.
The Great Lakes governors endorsed the Compact in December 2005. Minnesota became the first state to adopt the Compact in February 2007. Illinois adopted the Compact in August 2007, Indiana in February 2008, New York in March 2008, and Wisconsin in May 2008. Ohio passed the Compact on July 1, 2008. The Michigan House of Representatives and Senate have passed the Compact, and Governor Granholm is expected to approve the bill next week.
The Great Lakes contain 95 percent of the fresh surface water of the United States. Although seemingly abundant, less than 1 percent of the Great Lakes water is renewed each year, leaving the lakes vulnerable to degradation and depletion. The Compact will ensure that clean and plentiful water remains available in Pennsylvania to provide critical drinking water for citizens in Erie, power for Pennsylvania’s economy, affordable and efficient transportation for commerce, and numerous recreational opportunities for Pennsylvanians and tourists alike.
"Over seven years ago, state representatives, environmentalists, industry groups, and others set out to protect the Great Lakes for future generations by drafting a binding regional agreement on water withdrawals," said Buchsbaum. "Many naysayers thought the agreement would never make it out of the negotiations, let alone through the state legislatures. Yet we are incredibly close to achieving our goal. We hope that Congress will act swiftly to close the deal."
For Immediate Release July 7, 2008
Andy Buchsbaum, National Wildlife Federation (734) 769-3351
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