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Diversions of water from the Great Lakes

Governors and Premiers from the seven states and two provinces that surround the Great Lakes plan a revision to the charter. This revision can lead to the destruction of local economies and the degradation of the Great Lakes ecosystem and economies.
Known as the Great Lakes Charter Annex 2001, this amendment creates loopholes in allowing bulk removal of water from the basin. The problems are these:

Although the Department of Natural Resources (US) trumpets this as a conservation measure, the truth is that there are no established guideline as to how Great Lakes basin ecosystems and economies will be affected. I can speculate that diversions will allow industries to move to distant areas (even other states, provinces, or countries) where labor and property are less expensive. Now they can enjoy treated Great Lakes Water for a song! For areas that are in the watershed, we can expect that diversions will make our access to water a second priority. Laws of supply and demand predict that those areas with water shortages (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and even OPEC countries) will pay more for water and should have first priority.

The Great Lakes water level is still below the long-term average, and now our governments want to remove more without any forecasts or studies on the recharge rates and the affect of the coastal areas (which are most productive and most essential to the lake food webs).

Lowering the water table may affect the regional climate. As water is the major heat store, a diminished level will decrease the ability of our lakes to regulate temperature extremes. For farming and gardening, a lower water table means the topsoil will become colder than usual during winter. This can cause the spring germination to occur later in the season (resulting in a shorter growing period and lower yield), as well as affect soil organisms that culture the soil.

The de minimus clause of the annex allows for the removal of 1 million gallons a day without approval of the regulatory body (when and if there is a regulatory body).

US Supreme Court determined that water is an item of commerce and that trade regulations state that we cannot retain water from the rest of the world. In the US, NAFTA laws will weaken our sovereignty.

The windfall of profits from the diversions of water will not return to the people of the basin, only to private industries, NAFTA, WTO and government officials. Instead the surrounding areas will have to absorb the cost of building infrastructure (pipelines, water treatment, wastewater treatment, and roads to handle the urban sprawl).

We live in a wonderful area, with the most valuable resource-water. Lets not leave our grandchildren a dessert!

Please send your comments to Dick Bartz:

(dick.bartz (at)

Feb. 28, 2001 is the last day they are considering comments.

The website that you can view the plan in more detail is: and link to the Great Lakes Charter 2001



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