Stupak testifies on water withdrawal
WASHINGTON, D. C. -- Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) testified before the Council of Great Lakes Governors at a
recent public hearing on the current draft of the Annex 2001 Implementing Agreements. If enacted, these agreements will become the common standard for Great Lakes water diversion. Stupak urged the eight Great Lakes Governors and two Canadian Premiers to adopt several alterations to the agreements to ensure our Great Lakes are preserved and protected for generations to come.
"I am pleased that the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers are working toward a unified position on protecting the Great Lakes from water withdrawals," Stupak said. "However, the final version of this policy needs to be considerate of any potential loopholes that would allow thirsty states or corporations the opportunity to tap into our region's greatest treasure. The only way to ensure that does not occur is a complete prohibition on water diversions outside of the basin."
This is the second draft of the Annex policies available for public comment since the idea to create a common diversion practice was conceived in 2001. The first draft was provided to the public for commentary in 2004. At that time, the public submitted nearly 10,000 comments for review by the Council of Great Lakes
Governors; and those comments have been considered in the draft currently being reviewed.
Public comments needed by Aug. 29, 2005
The 2005 drafts have been discussed at meetings in each of the eight Great Lakes states before coming to Lansing for the one and only public hearing in Michigan. Citizens
may submit comments on the drafts until Aug. 29, 2005. This may be the final opportunity for citizens to share their concerns with the Council of Great Lakes Governors before they complete the final stage in the policy process. That version will eventually come before Congress for consideration and final passage.
"It is vital that the public provide input on the Annex 2001 Implementing Agreements because these Agreements will be the one and only means we will have to protect our Great Lakes from the threat of water diversion," Stupak said. "This may be the last time that residents of the Great Lakes states, those most affected by the content of these agreements, will have a chance to express their feelings on this important issue."*
Two current protections in place prohibiting water diversion are a federal ban found in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and the Great Lakes Charter of 1985. The provision in WRDA provides for a ban on water diversion unless all eight Great Lakes Governors agree. The Great Lakes Charter of 1985 is a non-binding, "good faith" agreement signed by the Great Lakes Governors and two Canadian Premiers in support of a no-diversion policy.
"Current policies have been effective in protecting the Great Lakes from diversion for 20 years," Stupak said. "The Annex 2001 Implementing Agreements, in their current form, do not go as far to protect our Great Lakes as current law but would supersede the Great Lakes Charter and WRDA. The Annex was intended to be a stronger standard on water withdrawals not a weakened version of current laws."
The Annex 2001 implementing agreements consist of two policies. Since the states and Canada cannot engage in a compact together, the United States Congress and Canada must approve the "agreement" decided by the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces. Separately, Congress may approve the "compact" agreed to by the eight Great Lakes States.
* Michigan residents can take action to ask Governor Jennifer Granholm and the other Great Lakes Governors to stop water diversions by strengthening Annex 2001. The quickest way to have your voice heard is to click on
The Public Interest Research Group in Michigan
(PIRGIM) Web site.
Constituents can contact Congressman Stupak and his staff by calling toll-free
1-800-950-7371 or by emailing him at
email@example.com. His Congressional Aide Amy Wisti may be reached in Houghton from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.,
Monday through Thursday, at (906) 482-1371.
For Rep. Stupak's views on current issues, visit his
During her Aug. 17, 2005, visit to Keweenaw County, Gov. Granholm
commented on the importance of protecting Great Lakes water. See "Governor Jennifer Granholm visits Keweenaw County."
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