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December 14, 2000

Governor Announces Proposed Changes to Great Lakes Water Use

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced proposed changes to an agreement governing Great Lakes water use as a next step forward in protecting the Great Lakes.

"It is important that the Great Lakes states and the governments of Ontario and Quebec have the tools necessary to ensure Great Lakes water is used wisely to benefit all the citizens," said Ryan, a member of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

Ryan urged Illinoisans to review and comment on the Council's Annex 2001, a proposed amendment to the Great Lakes Charter of 1985, which would update the regional water management system for the Great Lakes in order to protect, conserve, restore, and improve the water and water dependent natural resources of the Great Lakes Basin. Ryan and the other Great Lakes governors welcome comments on the proposal through the Council of Great Lakes Governors office until Wednesday, February 28, 2001. The Annex is currently under discussion with the governments of Ontario and Quebec.

Under the proposed Annex 2001, the Great Lakes Governors and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec would:

  • Forge a new binding agreement to manage the Great Lakes waters;

  • Create a new standard requiring an improvement to the water and water-dependent natural resources of the Great Lakes before allowing new or increased water withdrawals;

  • Implement the new standard for interim decisions under the U.S. Water Resources Development Act (WRDA);

  • Obtain better information so that the water is managed rationally; and

  • Include the Premiers in reviewing and consulting on all new proposed diversions subject to the WRDA by lowering the trigger level for diversions under the Charter.

  • Illinois is the only Great Lakes state with a significant diversion of water out of the Great Lakes basin. Illinois' diversion is the water supply for more than 6.3 million northeastern Illinois residents and provides a direct connection between the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway and the Illinois and Mississippi Waterway. The U.S. Supreme Court retains jurisdiction over Illinois' diversion, and the allocation of water from Lake Michigan is the responsibility of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. As a pre-existing diversion, Illinois' continued use of water from Lake Michigan is not subject to the new requirements of the proposed Annex 2001 or the follow-up binding agreement.

  • In 1985, the Governors and Premiers of the Great Lakes States and Provinces signed the Great Lakes Charter to guide them in the wise use and management of the Great Lakes water resource. Under the current Charter, the Governors and Premiers of Ontario and Quebec notify and consult with each other on proposals for diversions and consumptive uses of waters within their Great Lakes Basin of over five million gallons (19 million liters) per day. The Charter contains a set of management principles for use by all; however, it is a non-binding agreement.

In 1998, a proposal to export bulk quantities of Lake Superior water to the Far East caused state, provincial and both federal governments to reexamine the strength and adequacy of the legal foundation upon which Great Lakes water management authorities exist. This reexamination showed that a new binding agreement was needed between the states and provinces to properly manage the Great Lakes water resource.

Annex 2001, which is an amendment to the 1985 Great Lakes Charter, provides interim guidance for the management and use of Great Lakes water while the formal binding agreements are being prepared.

"This proposed Annex represents a significant step forward in protecting our Great Lakes," said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who chairs the Council. "The public's input in this process is critical as we work with our counterparts in Ontario and Quebec to build a more effective regional water management system."

Following the public comment period, the Governors, in consultation with the Premiers, will review the comments and make changes before releasing the final Annex 2001. They will then begin developing a set of more binding agreements as agreed to in the Annex.

Comments should be forwarded to the Council of Great Lakes Governors by e-mail at cglg@cglg.org, by fax at 312-407-0038, or by mail to:
Annex 2001 Comments
Council of Great Lakes Governors
35 East Wacker Drive
Suite 1850
Chicago, IL 60601

The Council of Great Lakes Governors is a non-profit, non-partisan partnership of Governors of the Great Lakes states-Illinois (George H. Ryan), Indiana (Frank O'Bannon), Michigan (John Engler), Minnesota (Jesse Ventura), New York (George E. Pataki), Ohio (Bob Taft), Pennsylvania (Tom Ridge), and Wisconsin (Tommy G. Thompson). Through the Council, the Governors collectively tackle the environmental and economic challenges facing the citizens of the region.


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