Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Organizations Amplify Their Support For A Strong Great Lakes Compact

Nine Wisconsin environmental, health and conservation organizations said today that the Department of Natural Resources' encouragement to New Berlin to seek a sale of diverted Lake Michigan water from Milwaukee underscored the need for Wisconsin to adopt a strengthened Great Lakes Compact agreement.

The Compact, if ratified in similar versions by the eight Great Lakes states, would establish first-ever rules and standards governing diversions from the Great Lakes, guarantee conservation and establish other public policy goals.

Minnesota has adopted the Compact; New York is close, leaving six states, including Wisconsin, without ratification.

New Berlin applied for a diversion of Lake Michigan water last year and submitted a revised application earlier this year.

The DNR said last week that New Berlin's application was in order, and also was in the spirit of Compact, but the DNR is helping New Berlin jump the gun because the Compact has yet to be approved by the Wisconsin legislature.

And the DNR is also jamming the City of Milwaukee by pushing on to the city the political responsibility for transferring water to New Berlin, while also exaggerating the DNR's role in getting New Berlin and Milwaukee talking about someday agreeing on a water deal.

The nine statewide organizations are bringing some perspective to the table.

In their joint statement, the groups argue that a strong Compact is in the interest of New Berlin, the state and the region because it will help preserve a shared resource.

More than 40 million people utilize the Great Lakes for drinking water, and the Great Lakes anchor the economies of the eight states and two Canadian provinces.

Only 1% of the Great Lakes' volume is renewed by rain and snowfall every year; the Great Lakes make up 20% of the world's fresh surface waters.

Update: Gov. Doyle has convened a bi-partisan, public-private working group to help a deadlocked legislative council study committee draft a bill to approve and implement the Compact in Wisconsin.

The working group met Tuesday. State Sen. Mary Lazich, a persistent critic of the Compact, tells The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she is mad that she was left off the working group.

Lazich has gone so far as to suggest there's merit in setting aside the five years of negotiations that led to the December, 2005 Compact proposal.

She also favors gutting the Compact of a key diversion approval procedure - - the unanimous vote of all eight Great Lakes governors if water is to be shipped to a community like the City of Waukesha that is completely outside the Great Lakes basin boundaries.

So leaving Lazich off the working group is hardly a surprise.

1 comment:

Steve Branca said...

...nor is it a bad thing.