Thursday, March 22, 2007
Illinois Poised to Endorse Great Lakes Water Use Compact
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Just one month after Minnesota became the first to adopt landmark regional water use standards, Illinois is expediting its endorsement of the standards -- part of the Great Lakes Compact approved by the regions governors in 2005.
With the passing of this measure, Illinois is one step closer to being the Midwest leader in preserving our freshwater resources for future generations, said Rep. Harry Osterman of Chicagos North Side.
Osterman is the top sponsor of House Bill 375, which passed unanimously Wednesday on a voice vote by the Illinois House of Representatives Executive Committee. The measure endorses the Great LakesSt. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, which governs new or increased withdrawals, consumptive uses and diversions of the seven other states that border the Great Lakes. New or increased diversions of water to places outside the Great Lakes watershed also would be banned, with minor exceptions.
The Compact enhances state sovereignty, said Cameron Davis, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, testifying as primary witness for the bill on behalf of the Illinois Environmental Council, Openlands Project, Environment Illinois and others. The longer the Great Lakes states delay in endorsing the Compact, the more theyll tempt Congress to step in and do the job for them.
The Alliances testimony on the legislation comes a month after Illinois Sen. John Cullerton, also of Chicagos North Side, sponsored a Senate companion bill, SB50. The Senate and House measures are expected to move soon toward full chamber consideration.
The Great Lakes are a resource for us to use and protect, not a commodity to sell to the highest bidder, Davis testified. They are not a resource to be squandered by any one industry, person or community at the expense of all of us. We all have a responsibility to protect the Lakes, not for a single interest, but for our families and future generations.
Major funding for the Alliances water conservation program is generously provided by the Brico Fund in Milwaukee and members of the Alliance.
Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly the Lake Michigan Federation) is the oldest citizens' Great Lakes organization in North America. Its mission is to conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. More about the Alliance is online at www.greatlakes.org.
Alliance for the Great Lakes