“Despite the fact they look like large bodies of water, they don’t replenish easily.”
Since 2005, Canada and the U.S. have created joint and independent bodies to protect Great Lakes freshwater .
Waukesha, Wisc., is the first city to test the Great Lakes compact, a multi-state agreement adopted in 2008 that restricts water withdrawals to communities located within the Great Lakes Basin. Their proposal has triggered concerns that there will be similar requests down the road, potentially putting a strain on the Great Lakes water supply water supply.
But despite expressing concerns with the town’s application to divert the natural resource just over a month earlier, Ontario, along with Quebec and seven U.S. states, pushed forward the town’s amended proposal this past May.
The vote to give preliminary approval to Waukesha to withdraw water from Lake Michigan passed 9-0 on May 18. Of the 10 members of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body , which includes eight U.S. states and Ontario and Quebec. Minnesota was the only party to abstain.
Neither Canadian province will participate in the final vote that will determine whether Waukesha’s diversion proposal is ultimately permitted because the final decision falls under American legislation.
Environmentalists south of the border are also voicing their opposition to the proposal.
In Wisconsin, a group of non-profits called the Compact Implementation Coalition (CIC) is calling for Waukesha’s application to be refused. In lieu of siphoning water from the Great Lakes, the CIC is urging the city to consider treating its deep groundwater wells instead. This “non-diversion” solution, they claim, is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly approach to securing safe and clean water.