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Plugging lakes compact leaks

Progress Illinois notes a new effort led by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation to amend the Great Lakes Basin Compact to classify water as a public resource and not a commercial product.  They want to plug a gap in the compact (first reported here in August) that could allow massive withdrawals by water bottlers.

Environmental groups that support the compact say it is strong enough as is.  Amending the compact would be an arduous process, requiring agreement by legislatures of eight states and by the U.S. Congress.

 U.S. Representative Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), who opposed the pack (citing loopholes “anybody could drive a semitruck through”) said he might sponsor a joint resolution expressing congressional intent that Great Lakes water not be commercialized, according to an AP report.

Leaks in Great Lakes Compact?

While Great Lakes advocates are pressing for swift congressional approval of the Great Lakes Compact, groups concerned about water privatization are working to close what they call “loopholes” in the international agreement.

A coalition including Food and Water Watch, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, and the Council of Canadians is concerned that while the compact bans large-scale diversions of Great Lakes water, it provides exceptions for bottled water and for water labelled as “product.”

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Avoiding water shortages

Even within the Lake Michigan region, many municipalities are reaching their limit on water withdrawals under the international Great Lakes Compact.

With growing development, Illinois faces growing demands on its water supply. Proper planning — and consideration of water management issues in land use and development decisions — is required to avoid water shortages in coming decades, said Mandy Burrell of the Metropolitan Planning Council.

MPC is sponsoring “Beyond Showerheads and Sprinklers,” a conference on water governance in Illinois, along with Openlands and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. It takes place this Friday, May 16, at the Union Club.

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