1sunfight’s Weblog

October 4, 2008

Bush Signs the Great Lakes Compact into Law

The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes

The final chapter of the Great Lakes bill has come to a close. On Friday morning George W. Bush signed into law the Great Lakes Compact.

The Compact includes the following points:

  • Economic development will be fostered through sustainable use and responsible management of Basin waters.
  • In general, there will be a ban on new diversions of water from the Basin but limited exceptions could be allowed in communities near the Basin when rigorous standards are met.
  • Communities that apply for an exception will have a clear, predictable decision making process; standards to be met; and, opportunities to appeal decisions.  These processes and standards do not exist under current law.
  • The States will use a consistent standard to review proposed uses of Basin water.  The States will have flexibility regarding their water management programs and how to apply this standard.
  • Regional goals and objectives for water conservation and efficiency will be developed, and they will be reviewed every five years.  Each State will develop and implement a water conservation and efficiency program that may be voluntary or mandatory.
  • There is a strong commitment to continued public involvement in the implementation of the Compact.

Efforts to create stiffer protections for the lakes started in 1998 after a Canadian business owner proposed shipping tankers full of Lake Superior water to Asia. That plan was scrapped after public outcry, but the controversy made it apparent that existing laws might not be strong enough to block it and other large-scale diversions.


The Great Lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water. Compact supporters long have voiced concern that arid regions such as the western U.S. would target the lakes as the Sun Belt’s population and political clout grew.

Many accolades to creating, and passing this bill into law.

The two Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes, Ontario and Quebec, have signed a parallel agreement.

Council of Great Lakes Governors


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