The Senate has voted to ratify a compact to prevent the diversion of water from the Great Lakes, quickly approving legislation sought by the region’s governors worried that thirsty places would covet one of the world’s largest sources of fresh water.
The Senate passed the measure without objection, and it now awaits action in
the House. President Bush has said he will sign it into law, and both major
presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, have said they support
“Senate passage of this compact will help us protect the Great Lakes from water
diversions and preserve this invaluable resource for future generations,” says
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the bill’s chief sponsor.
The agreement, negotiated by eight Great Lakes states, prevents countries or
remote states from tapping into the lakes from their natural drainage basin
with rare exceptions. In addition, states would be required to regulate their
own large-scale water use and promote conservation. Michigan was the final
state to approve the pact last month.
Sen. George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican and co-chair of the Senate Great
Lakes Task Force with Levin, says the best way to preserve and protect the
lakes is “by passing and enacting the Great Lakes Compact and keeping control
of the lakes in the hands of the states that surround them and value them the
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), says the compact “will protect the health of these
precious bodies of fresh water, preventing unnecessary and dangerous diversions
of Great Lakes waters. I know the people of Wisconsin feel strongly about the
importance of preserving the lakes for future generations.”
The National Wildlife Federation urged the House to quickly follow the Senate’s
lead, but that will have to wait later in September, when Congress returns from
its recess. The compact was approved by the House Judiciary Committee. “It’s
time to seal the deal and protect our lakes, our drinking water, our economy
and our way of life,” proclaims Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of
the federation’s Great Lakes office.
Cameron Davis, president of Alliance for the Great Lakes, says the Senate’s
quick action shows that Congress recognizes the Great Lakes “as a national