Report: Great Lakes better protected than 10 years ago
DETROIT -- Protections put in place about a decade ago to prevent large-scale diversion of Great Lakes water have been successful. However, the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces must remain vigilant and utilize emerging technologies and s...
DETROIT - Protections put in place about a decade ago to prevent large-scale diversion of Great Lakes water have been successful. However, the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces must remain vigilant and utilize emerging technologies and scientific advances to maintain the positive momentum of the past decade, according to the consultants reviewing the measures.
The protections were installed following a Canadian entrepreneur’s plan to export Lake Superior water via tanker ships to Asia in 1998. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment approved that plan before public outcry scuttled it.
The Canadian and U.S. governments asked the International Joint Commission - which oversees Great Lakes water issues - to examine how to protect the lakes from large-scale diversions, and the agency issued recommendations in a 2000 report. The governments required the IJC to review progress after three years and every 10 years thereafter. This year marks the first of the 10-year reviews.
The review was conducted by Ralph Pentland, president of Ralbet Enterprises and acting chairman of the Canadian Water Issues Council at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Alex Mayer, professor of environmental and geological engineering at Michigan Technological University.
They found many areas of success:
- The policy gaps identified in 2000 have largely been filled.
- The eight states and two Canadian provinces on the Great Lakes have made significant progress in implementing water protection measures, especially the Great Lakes Compact and parallel agreement with Ontario and Quebec.
- Consumptive uses of Great Lakes water have declined in the past decade.
“Moving forward, it is important to remember that there really is no ‘surplus’ water in the Great Lakes Basin. From an ecosystem perspective, it is all in use, even in periods of high supply,” the consultants’ report states.
Great Lakes governments must be mindful of uncertainties that can impact the Great Lakes going forward, such as climate change and “the sheer threat of the unexpected,” the report states.