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GLIN==> July 29 Workshop to Encourage Public Input to Proposed G.L. Water Management Agreements (interactive videoconference)

Submitted by Barb Lehman <lehmanb@msu.edu>



Contact: Francie Todd


East Lansing, Mich. -- Once the fourth largest inland sea in the world, the Aral Sea, in Central Asia, has lost 80 percent of its volume since the 1960s due to water lost to upstream irrigation; the sea level has dropped more than 14 meters, leaving more than 38,000 km2 of former sea bottom as dry surface (an area more than twice the size of Lake Ontario). This cautionary tale is not lost on those who seek to protect the waters of the Great Lakes.

"The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water, which is a huge global resource. We need to be careful what happens to it," said Tracy Dobson, a professor in the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and a co-convener of a regional workshop to facilitate public discussion regarding proposed international agreements affecting the Great Lakes Basin.

The free public workshop will be held concurrently on the campuses of Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of Toronto (U of T), July 29, 2005, from 9:30 a.m. to

2:45 p.m. EDT. Four additional venues will participate via teleconference from Buffalo State University, New York; Québec; the University of Wisconsin; and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The East Lansing session of the workshop will be held in Room 145 Communication Arts and Sciences Building, on the MSU campus.

Revised Annex Agreements and the Future of the Great Lakes Basin is an interactive live video conference designed to provide an exchange of information on the revised drafts of the Great Lakes Annex 2001 Implementing Agreements -- proposed agreements that would govern the way the Great Lakes and the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are managed and protected. Workshop panelists, comprised of academic, legal and water resource experts; environmental and industry advocates; and a representative of the Union of Ontario Indians and the Council of Great Lakes Governors, will present their viewpoints in the Toronto and East Lansing sessions. They will take questions from attendees at the host sites and linked locations.

Leaders of the two Canadian provinces and eight states that surround the Great Lakes -- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ontario and Quebec -- have been working since 2001 to establish binding agreements that would strengthen the existing Great Lakes Charter. A first draft of this far-reaching interstate and international agreement, which has become known as the Great Lakes Charter Annex, was released for public consultation last summer. The second set of draft agreements has been changed extensively as a result of public input received last year. These Revised Annex Agreements were released June 30, for a 60-day public review period that ends August 29. The regional Revised Annex Agreements workshop will provide one of the few opportunities for interactive public comment and dialogue on the revised drafts during the public comment period.

"The comment period is just 60 days long," Professor Dobson noted. "This is an opportunity for the public to participate in the decision-making process, to ensure that our government hears multiple viewpoints, and not just special interests. We want to engage the public and have those affected provide and reflect the views of their communities."


Page Three -- Great Lakes Communication and Technology Services

The workshop is free and the public is encouraged to attend, however registration is required by e-mailing one of the event organizers. Lunch will be provided for registered attendees. The MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the U of T Munk Centre for International Studies are hosting the workshop, with additional support from the MSU Canadian Studies Center and the MSU Center for Water Resources.

Information about the conference, as well as downloadable copies of the Annex Agreements and A Great Lakes Citizen's Primer on the Annex Agreements are available online at www.powi.ca. To register for the MSU session, contact Erin Dreelin via e-mail at dreelin@msu.edu or call

(517) 432-8185; for the Toronto session, e-mail registration.munk@utoronto.ca or call (416) 946-8901.

Implementation of the Revised Annex Agreements will have significant implications for the Great Lakes, their tributaries, and groundwater for the next century and beyond. The public comment period is an important opportunity for interested constituencies, organizations and individuals to promptly analyze the new texts, share information and reach conclusions about these new agreements.


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