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GREAT LAKES COMPACT

Image: Map of the Great Lakes.The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact has been law in New York and the United States since 2008. CCE is now working to ensure that the Compact is implemented effectively in New York.

Great Lakes Water Quantity

While seemingly inexhaustible, the Great Lakes are truly a gift of the glaciers, as rainfall and snowmelt only naturally replenish about one percent of the water annually. Once water removal from the Great Lakes for any reason extends beyond one percent annually, lake levels will decrease. The existing strains on this fragile ecosystem, such as pollution, invasive species, and global warming, will only be exacerbated if the sheer quantity of water is jeopardized by Great Lakes water export.

An Increasingly Thirsty World

Predicted to be more valuable than oil, our abundant fresh water resources are the envy of many who suffer from already strained, polluted or disappearing water resources. Beginning in the 1980’s, there has been increased interest in shipping, piping and diverting Great Lakes water, including a private company proposing to ship Lake Superior water to Asia in tankers!

The Great Lakes- St Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact

The Compact is a valuable interstate agreement that builds on century-old interstate and international protections for the Great Lakes. The Compact specifies how each Great Lakes state will act to protect Great Lakes water quantity. Highlights of the Compact include:

  • Sets environmental standards for managing new or increased water withdrawal proposals;
  • Prohibits water diversions out of the basin, with limited exceptions;
  • Establishes protection for all the waters of the Great Lakes Basin, including tributary streams, rivers, and groundwater;
  • Requires states to establish water conservation measures;
  • Ensures public participation opportunities; and
  • Preserves the rights of states to enact stronger protections.

Updated by bsmith 11/12/13