The Fox River flows through Waukesha, but it’s not big enough for the needs of the city.

The Fox River flows through Waukesha, but it’s not big enough for the needs of the city.
Photo Credit: John Flesher/Associated Press

International group of mayors unite against Great Lakes decision

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Earlier this year a decision was made in the U.S, to allow a community to withdraw its municipal water from Lake Michigan, even though it was outside the Great Lakes water basin.

A coalition of some 100 mayors and local governments in both Canada and the US are now lobbying against that decision.

An agreement among the eight US states and Quebec and Ontario in Canada which adjoin the Great Lakes, says that water can only be drawn by those cities within the water basin itself..

Waukesha, Wisconsin, a town of about 70,000, lies just outside the basin area, but made the request as it’s own aquifer is running low and has long been contaminated with excessive levels of naturally occurring cancer-causing radium,

The eight states, with input from the provinces later approved the deal.

Waukesha lies just outside the Great Lakes basin area and so through international agreement would not normally be allowed to withdraw water from the lake. A special deal, many say could be see as precedent setting, will allow it to take water from Lake Michigan
Waukesha lies just outside the Great Lakes basin area and so through international agreement would not normally be allowed to withdraw water from the lake. A special deal, many say could be seen as precedent-setting, will allow it to take water from Lake Michigan © Mapbox, openstreet map, Canadian Press

Arguing that the decision sets a dangerous precendent for mass water removals from the Great Lakes, the coalition of mayors calling itself the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Cities Initiative is challenging the agreement.

They say it could lead to other thirsty states making the same request.

Quoted by the Canadian Press, Sandra Cooper, mayor of Collingwood Ontario, says, “This is just the beginning of something that could potentially grow and just be catastrophic. She adds, “There was no opportunity for public input with our Great Lakes community and I think that’s a downfall of the whole process.”

April 2016: Mayor Denis Lapointe in Quebec says the Waukesha  decision could be *the tip of the iceberg* in possible future requests for Great Lakes water diversions.
April 2016: Mayor Denis Lapointe in Quebec says the Waukesha decision could be *the tip of the iceberg* in possible future requests for Great Lakes water diversions. © Racio-Canada- Catherine Kovacs

Denis Lapointe, mayor of Salaberry-de Valleyfield in Quebec, noted earlier this year that ten years ago a request to divert Great Lakes water via pipeline to the US state of Nevada was turned down. A situation that could result in a different outcome if the Waukesha decision is used as a precendent.

Another member of the Initiative is Randy Hope, mayor of Chatham-Kent in southwestern Ontario. Also quoted by the Canadian Press, said of the Waukesha diversion and possible future diversions of water, “”It’ll lower our waterways, it’ll have eco and social and economic effects that people cannot determine at this time.”

The international group of mayors has also written to Canada’s Prime Minister, and the US President urging them to take action to stop the Waukesha diversion.

The Great Lakes provide potable water to 33 million people, nine million of them in Canada.

RCI-June

http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2016/06/22/the-end-of-the-great-lakes-water-deal-causes-concern/

Canadian Press- via CBC

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/canadian-u-s-mayors-scramble-to-stop-diversion-of-water-from-great-lakes-1.3731227

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Posted in Economy, Environment, International, Politics

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One comment on “International group of mayors unite against Great Lakes decision
  1. Paul Ahrens says:

    The effluent from the Waukesha sewage treatment plant will be returned to Lake Michigan so the net water removal from the lake will be just a small percentage of that which is removed from the lake. The net water removal from the rejected pipeline to Nevada would have been 100%. I think that there is a very significant difference between the two proposals and thus the reason for approval of the Waukesha proposal and the rejection of the Nevada proposal.