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Water Today Title November 25, 2017

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Great Lakes Diversions

By: Jessica Lemieux

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council) was established on December 8, 2008, when the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact became State and federal law. Each of the eight Great Lakes State legislatures ratified the Compact and Congress provided its consent for this significant accord. The Compact was created to protect the Great Lakes from diversions, and it sets a very high standard for any exceptions.

On Tuesday June 21st 2016, the members of the Compact Council made a historic decision when they approved the Waukesha diversion proposal. The Compact has deemed that, with the amendments to the original proposal, Waukesha meets the rigorous standards necessary to gain an exception. Waukesha has now been granted access to an average of 8.2 million gallons of Lake Michigan water per day. All borrowed water is required to be treated and returned to Lake Michigan through Root River.

The Canadian Water Resources Association (CWRA) is dedicated to promoting effective water management and managing water resources, with a commitment to environmental, social and economic stability.

The CWRA’s governing objectives are “to stimulate awareness and understanding of Canada’s water resources, to encourage recognition of the high priority and value of water, to provide a forum for the exchange of information and opinion relating to the management of Canada’s water and to participate with appropriate agencies in international water management activities.”

President of the Canadian Water Resources Association, Rick Ross, gave his support for the Compact Council’s decision. Ross said, “If the entire council approved it, we would have to support that.” He then added that it is critical to remember that “the Great Lakes are actually a, generally, non-renewable resource.”

Mayor Shawn Reilly of Waukesha, Wisconsin, believes that the approval for the diversion is a great victory for both Waukesha, and for the commitment to protecting the Great Lakes.

Mayor Shawn Reilly said:

    The vote to approve Waukesha's request for Great Lakes water is an enormous accomplishment for the people of Waukesha, after more than a decade of work. The regional commitment to implementing the requirements of the Great Lakes Compact is also a victory for protecting this tremendous resource. The same states and provinces that authored the Compact, and who adopted laws to implement it, have determined that the Waukesha application meets the Compact’s standards for borrowing Great Lakes water. We greatly appreciate the good faith they showed in focusing on the facts and science of our application.

Waukesha’s next step is to design a new pipeline system to take and return lake water. When lake water becomes available, Waukesha will stop using its 10 groundwater wells, including seven deep wells. Waukesha is under a court-ordered deadline of June 2018 to fully comply with federal and state drinking water standards for radium.

Related Stories

Waukesha water diversion - Part 1
Waukesha water diversion - Part 2

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