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August 1, 2008
Levin, Voinovich Hail Swift Senate Passage of Historic Resolution to Protect Great Lakes
Great Lakes Compact now goes to House for consideration
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Carl Levin, D-Mich., and George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, praised the passage of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Water Basin Resources Compact by unanimous consent in the Senate today. The joint resolution, S.J. Res. 45, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Once passed by the House, the joint resolution goes to the President for his signature.
“We are temporary stewards of this unique national treasure, the largest fresh water system in the world,” Sen. Levin said. “Senate passage of this Compact will help us protect the Great Lakes from water diversions and preserve this invaluable resource for future generations. Sensible conservation goals in water use will ensure that our children and great grandchildren benefit from the Great Lakes as we do.”
“Today’s passage is incredible news because The Great Lakes are not only an indispensable natural, economic and recreation resource for Ohio and many other states – they are one of our nation’s greatest natural resources,” Sen. Voinovich said. “The best way we can preserve and protect them is by passing and enacting the Great Lakes Compact and keeping control of the lakes in the hands of the states that surround them and value them the most.”
In 2000, Congress passed legislation directing the governors of the Great Lakes states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – to negotiate a water management agreement. In 2005, the eight Great Lakes governors, in coordination with the Canadian Premiers of Ontario and Quebec, completed negotiations on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.
Each of the eight Great Lakes legislatures considered and approved the Compact, which will protect the Great Lakes through better water management, conservation and public involvement. Congress must pass the joint resolution before the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Basin Water Resources Compact can achieve full force and effect as an interstate compact. The House of Representatives is expected to consider the joint resolution when it reconvenes in September.
The Compact includes the following:
· A general 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;
· Economic development will be fostered through sustainable use and responsible management of Basin waters;
· 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 consistent water conservation and efficiency program that may be voluntary or mandatory.
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