U.S. Water News Online
LANSING, Mich. -- Companies would have to show they could
improve the Great Lakes before receiving permission to withdraw water
under a proposal announced by Gov. John Engler.
Water could be removed only by showing that there would be an
improvement to the water or other natural resources, Engler announced
as part of his proposed changes to the Great Lakes Charter.
Legal experts say banning the exportation of water out of the
Great Lakes Water Basin violates international trade law and
treaties, Engler said in a written statement.
``We can't ban it, but we can set some severe restrictions,'' said
John Truscott, a spokesman for Engler. ``It would be difficult to
exceed the threshold we set. We are continuing to fight the diversion
While environmental advocates say the plan is a good first step,
they say it needs more specific language about who's allowed to
Engler's plan fails to call for an overall conservation plan for
saving Great Lakes waters and restoring damage already done to the
lakes, Reg Gilbert, senior coordinator for Great Lakes United, said
from his office in Buffalo, N.Y.
While removal of Great Lakes water isn't a current problem,
Truscott said Engler's action is heading off future problems. For
example, a current proposal in Canada would move water by tanker from
Newfoundland to the Middle East.
Engler's proposed changes to the Great Lakes Charter are expected
to be signed at the September meeting of the Council of Great Lakes
Governors, Truscott said. He said the proposal has received initial
support from governors of other Great Lakes states.
The charter needs congressional approval before it's legally
binding, said Tim Eder, director of the National Wildlife
Federation's Great Lakes office.
Eder said Engler's proposal could allow water to be exchanged for
ill-defined improvements to the Great Lakes.
``We need to clarify benefits to the Great Lakes and put
conservation first,'' Eder said.
He suggested requiring applicants to prove there is a real need to
remove water, show there is no other alternative and that they have
done everything they could to conserve water.
Great Lakes states must first inventory their uses of the Great
Lakes' water before drafting a policy for people outside the basin,
said Jim Goodheart, executive director of the Michigan United
``We can't expect others to conserve our basin if we don't do it
first,'' Goodheart said.
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