Alliance for the Great Lakes
For Immediate Release
Contact: Cameron Davis
U.S. Senate Testimony: Adopting Great Lakes Compact is National Sacred Imperative
Washington, D.C. Approving the Great Lakes Compact and its vital protections for the lakes is a national sacred imperative, as well as an ecologic and economic one, Alliance President
Cameron Davis testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today.
In testimony described as beautiful by committee Chairman Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Davis struck a transcendent note when he compared the seemingly endless blue waters of the Great Lakes to the infinity of heaven.
Today, when I take my wife and 2-year-old son to the beach, I try to teach him that though the lakes arent as infinite as heaven as I thought when I was a boy they still provide the solace and inspiration of heaven, Davis said.
Testifying on behalf of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, which represents more than 100 environmental groups around the region, Davis warned that the Great Lakes are vulnerable to depletion if the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact is not passed.
Were entering an era of critical water conservation, and were not alone, he said.
In the U.S. House of Representatives today, the House Judiciary Committee voted overwhelmingly to support the compact -- which was introduced in both the House and the Senate just last week. For it to become law, Congress must give its consent, as it has done with more than 40 other water compacts from around the nation.
The eight Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, have already approved the compact, a regional water agreement to protect the waters of the Great Lakes -- home to fully 20 percent of the worlds surface freshwater. The bordering provinces of Ontario and Quebec have signed a companion agreement as part of a parallel process in Canada.
In his testimony, Davis cited statistics from the United Nations that by 2025 some two-thirds of the worlds population will live in water-stressed areas, lacking access to clean, fresh water. The only solution is to live within our hydrological means, he said. In this region, we can no longer afford to act under the myth that the Great Lakes are limitless.
Davis likened taking water from the Great Lakes without replacing it to withdrawing money from a bank account without replenishing it. Absent a clear set of standards ensuring that water use within the basin is transparent, predictable and fair, Davis said the region has been on a spending spree.
The compact puts the onus on the citizens and governments of the Great Lakes states to prove that if we want more water from the Great Lakes, we must first prove its needed and that conservation measures first have been exhausted, he testified.
The Senate committee hearing also featured testimony by Wisconsin Gov. James Doyle, chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors; George Heartwell, mayor of Grand Rapids, Mich. and vice chairman of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative; and Kay Nelson of Northwest Indiana Forum.
The compacts introduction to Congress comes a decade after that body called on the Great Lakes states and Canada to develop standards for water use and conservation, a call that was met by years of diligent efforts of states, municipalities, businesses and public interest groups.
While the call for such standards was important, even more important was the fact that leaders from all around the nation saw fit to call for the protection of the Great Lakes ecosystem as a national and international treasure, Davis said. Now were asking Congress to finish the job and approve the compact.
Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly the Lake Michigan Federation) is the oldest independent citizens' 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 for the Great Lakes is online at www.greatlakes.org
Alliance for the Great Lakes