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Given there is sporadic news concerning the Great Lakes and I didn't seem to find a thread devoted already here...........

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/green/chi-water-warsmay27,0,4877690.story

Midwest's message: Hands off our lakes
Multistate pact would put water off-limits to parched South, West
By Tim Jones | Tribune correspondent
May 27, 2008

NEW BERLIN, Wis. — Piece by piece, a 5,500-mile wall around the Great Lakes is going up. You can't see it, but construction is progressing nicely, along with an implied neon sign that flashes, "Hands off—it's our water."

The legal pilings for a 1,000-mile segment of the wall are scheduled to be sunk Tuesday when Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle finalizes his state's approval of the so-called Great Lakes Compact, a multistate agreement designed to protect and restrict access to nearly 20 percent of the world's supply of fresh water, contained in the five Great Lakes.

After that will come Ohio, where later this week the legislature is expected to make it the sixth state to endorse the water agreement and advance a strong regional warning to chronically dry regions of the South and West that Great Lakes water is staying here.

"The Great Lakes are our Grand Canyon. It's our resource to protect, it's the backbone of the region," said Joel Brammeier, vice president for policy at the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

States, cities and countries have been arguing over water rights for decades, but the fights —often called water wars—have taken on a heightened sense of urgency in light of prolonged droughts, mounting evidence of climate change and, closer to home, declining lake levels. The drought-stricken Spanish port of Barcelona, for instance, is now shipping in drinking water from large tankers.

In the U.S., states in the South and West are hoping for relief from drought conditions that prompted drastic conservation measures last year and renewed talk of water diversions.

In some regards, water is the new oil and the governors of the states adjacent to the Great Lakes are the new OPEC, jealously guarding a resource that will be a big part of their future.

The defense of Great Lakes water is far from complete, though. If Ohio endorses the compact, Pennsylvania and Michigan would have to follow suit. Then the measure would be shipped to Congress for its ratification. Once that happens—and there are no guarantees that it would—the region would have the legal underpinnings to set terms of use for Great Lakes water and establish serious resistance to distant diversions.

But this wouldn't end water wars. It would merely redefine them in an industrialized region of the country grappling with the legacy of pollution that has tainted groundwater and drinking wells with radium, arsenic and other toxic materials.

"In the near future, the tensions over Great Lakes diversions are actually going to be in the Great Lakes region," said Peter Annin, author of "The Great Lakes Water Wars."

"It's going to come from communities with either declining groundwater supplies or declining and contaminated supplies," Annin said.

Robert Glennon, professor of law and public policy at the University of Arizona, said the threat of piping water to the Southwest "has always been wildly exaggerated."

"The realistic fear for the Great Lakes comes from within the region," Glennon said, pointing to communities with polluted drinking water, such as the western Milwaukee suburbs of New Berlin and Waukesha, which have a clear interest in the water compact being approved.

"We're kind of the poster child of Wisconsin," quipped Jack Chiovatero, mayor of New Berlin.

Here's why: New Berlin straddles the Great Lakes Basin, with about one-third of its 38,000 residents receiving water from Lake Michigan, and the remainder getting drinking water from wells contaminated with radium. The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the city to either clean up or find a safer source of water. Either solution is expensive.

Water rights in New Berlin are pretty much divided by Sunny Slope Road. If you live on the east side, you get Lake Michigan water, and whatever you use is eventually returned—after treatment—to the lake. If you're on the west side, you don't get lake water because without a means to return it, it works its way toward the Mississippi River. This is a situation the water compact is intended to prevent — draining the Great Lakes of water that will never be returned.

"If you have a thousand straws sipping into the lake," Brammeier said of communities outside the basin, "we don't want to go there because that could have an impact."

Chiovatero, who lives east of Sunny Slope Road, said the city has set up a means to return lake water that goes to the west side. The water compact would create the legal rules to do that.

A trickier situation exists in rapidly growing Waukesha, a suburb to the west that is outside the basin and, like New Berlin, has unacceptable levels of radium in its drinking water. Mayor Larry Nelson said that "Great Lakes water is the best environmental option" for the city.

Obtaining it will require Waukesha to establish a way to return the water it uses to Lake Michigan. "If we decide to move forward," Nelson said, "we intend our application to be a role model for other [communities] to follow."

Individual governors will have the authority to veto water diversions outside the basin, as then-Michigan Gov. John Engler did in 1991 when Lowell, Ind., tried to get access to Lake Michigan water. The premiers of 2 Canadian provinces—Ontario and Quebec — have similar veto authority.

How many more Waukeshas and Lowells are there? The vast majority of territory in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York are outside the Great Lakes Basin, and old industrial centers with troubled water systems could eventually be lining up to obtain clean water from the lakes.

That would set up politically difficult confrontations in the more localized water wars.

"There will be others coming because of radium and groundwater issues," said Jodi Habush Sinykin, a lawyer for Midwest Environmental Advocates, in Milwaukee.

"That's the nub of the matter," she said.

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That veto thing has been a major sticking point with the compact here in Wisconsin, in that ALL but a very tiny percentage of Michigan is in the Great Lakes' basin. The fear is that lake water-rich Michigan would use that veto to try to stymie economic development in the rest of the states/provinces that have relatively little of their landmasses in the basin whenever such development might threaten their own economic competitiveness.

Mike
 

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The fear is that lake water-rich Michigan would use that veto to try to stymie economic development in the rest of the states/provinces that have relatively little of their landmasses in the basin whenever such development might threaten their own economic competitiveness.

Mike
What is your personal opinion on this, the veto?

I know that the reality of the future situation is that it will not be the western and southern states that will clamour for our water; the sheer infrastructure makes the transportation of the water that far cost-prohibative. The truth is that any near-future water grab from the lakes will most likely comes from just outside of the basin, meaning that the most likely grabs at the waters of the lake will comes not from the south or west, but from the Great Lakes Midwest region, itself. When we look at the reality, and not the precieved reality, of the most likely future it kind of makes one question the motives of all of the states, as they don't all seem to match up.
 

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Some politicians in the west do have their eye on the Great Lakes though (and the Mississippi as well). Prior to running for President Bill Richardson suggested that water from the east was the long term solution the west's water woes and that the rest of the country had to get used to the notion that we would be shipping them water.
 

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Whether they have their eyes on it or not, it is still cost-prohibitive. They'd drain the rest of the surrounding West (as all of the West is not thirsty) before they'd absolutely be forced to put up the cost to pump of ship water from the far-away Great Lakes. The threat to the Great Lakes, for the forseeable future, will be from within the region, itself, and then maybe the South.
 

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Some politicians in the west do have their eye on the Great Lakes though (and the Mississippi as well). Prior to running for President Bill Richardson suggested that water from the east was the long term solution the west's water woes and that the rest of the country had to get used to the notion that we would be shipping them water.
If the west runs out of water, and we don't ship them any, how are they going to ship us the lettuce and tomatoes for my whoppers and gordita supremes in January? I can't eat hormel chili all winter!

Shit's getting crazy man, crazy!
 

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Anti-Cheese : Your little picture with your bottle of water is giving me the creeps. That ought to scare anyone out west from wanting our water. I think you really are starting to freak out.
 

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My thought is that a 'veto' should require more than one state or province to take effect.

Mike
Same, here. Though, I'd say that any board set-up should be composed around the idea of giving a state that is more directly effected by the Great Lakes more representatives. To me, it wouldn't make sense to give Indiana the same power Michigan has.
 

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Understand that current Federal law includes the one state veto so the Great Lakes Compact doesn't change that except now it allows for some sort of appeal process which doesn't exist under current law. So as it stands today, Michigan could veto Waukesha and there would be no recourse whereas under the Compact there is at least some sort of appeal process. The entire one state veto discussion by some politicians was really an attempt to remove most restrictions on water use as the Compact.
 

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Ohio signs Great Lakes compact

http://www.cleveland.com/water/

by Aaron Marshall
Tuesday June 10, 2008, 10:25 PM
COLUMBUS -- Ohio lawmakers Tuesday put a final stamp of approval on the Great Lakes Compact, capping a day of furious action that saw dozens of measures passed before lawmakers skedaddled home for their summer break.

Great Lakes pact: Making the biggest splash was the Ohio Senate, which unanimously passed the Great Lakes Compact, sending it to Gov. Ted Strickland's desk for his expected signature.

A faction of Senate Republicans had blocked passage of the compact for months over concerns that the language in the compact could infringe on private property rights.


Sen. Mark Wagoner, a Toledo Republican, said the compact sends a clear message to parched western and southern states that Ohio water can't be seized.

"Ohio should not ship its water to other parts of the country," Wagoner said. "The lack of water is already beginning to have an adverse impact on the economic ability of those states."

Senators waited to act on the compact until after the House passed a related constitutional amendment by a 90-3 vote. The amendment, which will go before voters in November, states that the compact does not impact private property water rights.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080630/ap_on_sc/great_lakes_compact;_ylt=AkhfIawnVDDj6quFYoLsVTMiANEA

Great Lakes compact focus shifting to Congress

By JOHN FLESHER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jun 29, 8:05 PM ET

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - A year ago, it seemed a proposed interstate compact designed to prevent thirstier regions from raiding the Great Lakes might be sunk by squabbles among the eight states with jurisdiction over the vast reservoir.

Now the deal to govern nearly one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water is close to ratification at the state level, and supporters are beginning to plot strategy for the final step: winning approval from Congress and the White House.

On the surface, the task would appear easy. Congress has endorsed more than 200 interstate compacts over the years, including 41 dealing specifically with water management. They regulate use of some of the nation's primary water sources, such as the Colorado and Delaware rivers.

Leading supporters of the Great Lakes pact say they're aware of no significant opposition in Congress or from the Bush administration. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, the likely presidential nominees, both have endorsed it.

But backers remain wary. After all, it was fear of water grabs by other sections of the country — or even from overseas — that inspired the eight states to negotiate their deal.

"There's a sense of urgency because this is an increasingly valuable natural resource at a time when significant growth is taking place in water-short areas," said David Naftzger, executive director of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

The governors were jolted into action a decade ago when a Canadian company obtained a permit from Ontario to ship tankers of Lake Superior water to Asia. The company dropped its plan in the face of withering criticism. But legal experts said the lakes needed stronger protection.

After years of haggling, the governors signed the compact in December 2005. They couldn't make a binding agreement with Ontario and Quebec, but both provinces adopted laws nearly identical to the compact.

It would prohibit, with rare exceptions, piping or shipping Great Lakes water outside the system's vast drainage basin, which reaches from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River to beyond the western edge of Lake Superior near Duluth, Minn. The basin measures about 900 miles east to west and 700 miles north to south.

The states also would be required to adopt conservation plans and regulate their use of water — from inland waterways as well as the Great Lakes.

The legislatures of all eight states must approve the compact. Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and New York quickly said yes.

But resistance surfaced in Ohio, where opponents said the compact would deny landowners the right to use water on their property. Wisconsin critics feared it would strangle growth in Milwaukee suburbs straddling or just outside the basin boundary. In Michigan, it got tangled in debate over accompanying bills to regulate in-state water withdrawals.

"It was declared dead several times before the governors came out with their recommendation," said Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes Natural Resource Center. "It's been declared dead every couple of months since then. But it keeps coming back, like a cat with nine lives."

The pact regained momentum this spring. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle called a special legislative session to approve a compromise. Ohio lawmakers accepted a compromise and Gov. Ted Strickland signed the ratification Friday. Michigan's legislature passed a water-use package including the compact last week and Gov. Jennifer Granholm promised to sign it.

That leaves Pennsylvania, where the compact cleared the House in January and is pending in the Senate. Even if it doesn't reach a vote before the legislature begins its summer recess, "I'm completely confident we'll enact it in the fall," said state Sen. Jane M. Earll, a key supporter.

Backers have been conducting briefings for congressional staffers from the Great Lakes states in hopes of gaining quick approval.

However, no decision has been made yet on who will be the primary House and Senate sponsors, which committees will consider the compact and whether it will be structured as a bill, a resolution or an amendment to other legislation. Also unclear is when the pact would be introduced and whether it can get through Congress before the next president takes office.

"This has moved so much quicker than any of us thought," said Cameron Davis, president of the Chicago-based Great Lakes Alliance. "We're putting finishing touches on some of these strategic points but don't have our final thoughts quite ready yet."

No criticisms have arisen from water-short Sun Belt states, but at least one Great Lakes lawmaker still is not happy with the compact.

Rep. Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat, says the ban on diversions has a significant loophole: It allows bottled water to be shipped from the region, a hotly debated issue in his state. He has not decided whether to oppose the compact, said spokesman Nick Choate.

"The commercialization of the water is the big issue for him," Choate said.

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Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.
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Maybe we should be focused more on conserving water and looking for alternatives like desalinization instead of fucking up our enviorment by stealing great lakes water.
 

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Water levels rising...for this year at least

Extra 3 trillion gallons of water in Lake Michigan
By Tom Skilling
11:31 PM CDT, July 25, 2008
Lake Michigan's water level has risen 8 inches above the same period a year ago. Once just 6 to 12 inches above all-time lows, lake levels are up in response to the same downpours that caused many area rivers to flood. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which monitors the Great Lakes, predicts the higher levels are to hold through the coming months, though, barring new waves of heavy rains, the biggest rises have probably already occurred. Interconnected Lakes Michigan and Huron are unlikely to change significantly in the next month.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/featu...om-skilling-explainer_26jul26,0,3981915.story
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Underwater, a disturbing new world (Tribune)

http://www.chicagotribune.com/featu...great-lakes-invasives_30jul30,0,5835308.story

Underwater, a disturbing new world
A Tribune team follows researchers to the bottom of Lake Michigan as they try to explain the rapidly shifting ecosystem
By James Janega | Chicago Tribune reporter
11:58 PM CDT, July 29, 2008

OFF ATWATER BEACH, Wis. — This place should be an underwater desert.

But as the three researchers wearing scuba tanks and lead weights drop through the water, the landscape of rounded stones 30 feet below is disturbingly full of strange, new life.

In just a few years, the gravel and white boulders that for centuries covered the bottom of Lake Michigan between Chicago and the Door County, Wis., peninsula have disappeared under a carpet of mussels and primitive plant life.

The change is not merely cosmetic. In the last three years or so, scientists say, invasive species have upended the ecology of the lakes, shifting distribution of species and starving familiar fish of their usual food supply.

Signs of the shift have been hard to ignore. Mats of dead, smelly algae wash ashore on Lake Michigan from Chicago to the Straits of Mackinac, castoffs of a vast underwater expanse seen from boat decks and from hilltops at Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan. Fishermen haul it up in their nets, dubbing it "lake moss."

Multiple strains of E. coli bacteria and botulism spores thrive in the new underwater garden, leading scientists to suspect they are contributing to beach closings and the widespread deaths of migratory birds. Meanwhile, fishermen notice the lake trout, salmon and whitefish are getting skinnier each season.

The rapid shift has researchers scrambling to understand what is happening and how widely the impact will be felt.

"The lake is changing faster than we can study it," said University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researcher Harvey Bootsma, whose small team of researchers hunts explanations from this new lake bottom in weekly dives off the Wisconsin shore.

Adaptation possible

Some ecologists and fishery managers say the Great Lakes may adapt, noting that some fish seem to be eating the most common invasive species. But experts also say the species are fueling change in the lakes at a rate far faster than they have ever seen.

"We don't necessarily know all the impacts, but we know enough to know that they are being catastrophic," said Cameron Davis, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "The ecological balance of the Great Lakes is at a tipping point. And the question is: Can they recover? Or can we act quickly enough to help them recover?".......................
More of the story in link
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
House prevents water diversion from Great Lakes

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/1082359,water073008.article

House prevents water diversion from Great Lakes

July 30, 2008Recommend

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- A House committee approved a compact Wednesday to prevent the diversion of water from the Great Lakes, one of the world's largest sources of fresh water.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the compact, building momentum in Congress for the Great Lakes agreement.

"The compact will ensure that our Great Lakes will remain stabile and vibrant for generations to come," said Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and the committee's chairman.

The agreement was negotiated by eight Great Lakes states and bars countries or remote states from tapping into the lakes from their natural drainage basin with rare exceptions. It also requires the states to regulate their own large-scale water uses and promote conservation.

"The sooner this compact can be ratified by the Congress, the sooner it will become effective and the greater protection will be given" to the lakes, said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was expected to hold a hearing on the compact later Wednesday as lawmakers hope to act on the interstate compact before the end of the year.

.......President Bush has urged Congress to approve the agreement, and both major presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, have said they support the compact.

House and Senate leaders from the region have said they are not aware of any significant opposition to the plan, which is common among states.............
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It is good to see the Compact moving forward. This isn't simply a "save the environment" issue, for saving the environments sake. But all sorts of industry depends on the Great Lakes and this is one measure to protect those industries.
 

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I wonder how valuable the water here will be if/when hydrogen powered vehicles and electrical plants become the fuel of choice.
 
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