Michigan Takes Leadership On Great Lakes
Though some local and state officials fear Michigan may block diversions of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha County, and have whipped up anti-Michigan sentiment in recent months, look who's out front on water quality in the Great Lakes:
Officials there, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, want to ban ocean-going ships from the Great Lakes because they carry in costly and destructive invasive species.
These invasive species are degrading a water supply that is crucial to the quality of life in an eight-state, two-province (Canadian) region. That includes Waukesha, New Berlin and other communities which might someday gain access to Lake Michigan for drinking water purposes, and which already benefit from close proximity to Lake Michigan for commercial and recreational purposes.
So a hat tip to Dan Egan for another solid piece of reporting about the Great Lakes and invasive species.
And a salute to Michigan for leadership on Great Lakes issues that benefit the entire region - - while also assuring Michigan, too, of high-quality water.
There doesn't have to be a contradiction in the policy-making. It can be local and regional, too.
And don't forget, Michigan did not block the Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin diversion from Lake Michigan some years back.
So business and political officials in Waukesha County who have had nothing good to say lately about Michigan might a) turn off the criticism, and b) take a fresh look at Michigan's bi-partisan/non-partisan approach to water politics.
Michigan and other Midwest states must act quickly to prevent new diversions of Great Lakes water before thirsty, powerful Sun Belt states try to tap the massive waterways, a state senator said Monday.
State Sen. Patty Birkholz, R-Saugatuck, said the eight Great Lakes states and Congress need to approve a water protection compact signed by the region's governors in 2005.
The compact, also known as Annex 2001, would prevent most new diversions of Great Lakes water to areas outside the lakes' drainage basin. The compact must be approved by all eight Great Lakes states and Congress to take effect; to date, Minnesota is the only state to ratify the deal.
"There are a lot of thirsty states and nations that want our water," Birkholz said during a meeting on Great Lakes water issues sponsored by the Holland League of Women Voters. "As technology evolves and those states and nations become thirstier ... there are going to be more opportunities for them to come in and take our water."
Birkholz said she has talked to legislators from Sun Belt states, whom she would not identify, who "have plans to take our water."
"Don't kid yourselves," Birkholz told a crowd of about 80 people, "this is a threat."
Thirsty Midwest communities just outside the Great Lakes basin -- such as the growing Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wis., which is trying to divert water from Lake Michigan -- pose an "imminent threat" to the lakes.
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