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June 18, 2001

Governor Ryan, Great Lakes Governors and Premiers Sign Charter Annex 2001

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan, along with other Great Lakes Governors and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec, today signed an agreement governing Great Lakes water use, calling it an important step forward to protect the Great Lakes.

"This agreement provides on an interim basis the tools necessary for the Great Lakes states and the governments of Ontario and Quebec to ensure Great Lakes water is used wisely to benefit everyone," said Governor Ryan, a member of the Council of Great Lakes Governors. "It will govern Great Lakes water use until new, binding agreements can be developed and signed."

Governor Ryan said the Council's Annex 2001, an amendment to the Great Lakes Charter of 1985, updates the regional water management system for the Great Lakes to protect, conserve, restore, and improve the water and water dependent natural resources of the Great Lakes Basin. It is an important step in the ongoing process to create a stronger regional water management system for the Great Lakes. Ryan and the other Great Lakes governors and the two Canadian Premiers executed the agreement following a meeting in Niagra Falls, N.Y.

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

  • 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;
  • 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 U.S. Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

"The economy of the Great Lakes Region was built on the availability of water for transportation and economic activity. We cannot take for granted that the availability of water for our citizens is limitless and that we will always be able to swim, drink and fish in our Lakes," said Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

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 6.6 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.

At Monday's meeting the Great Lakes Governors also approved a resolution that calls for the governors to consider a number of factors when reviewing water diversion proposals that are subject the WRDA, and which are for public water supply needs. Under WRDA, no bulk export diversions of Great Lakes waters from the basin can take place without the unanimous approval of all the Great Lakes governors.

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 (Scott McCallum). The Premiers of Ontario (Mike Harris) and Quebec (Bernard Landry) are associate members. Through the Council, the Governors collectively tackle the environmental and economic challenges facing the citizens of the region.

The full text of Annex 2001 can be accessed at www.cglg.org/projects/water/annex2001.pdf.


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