PA Governor Releases Draft of Great Lakes Protection Agreements

July 20, 2004
Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a member of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, announced the start of a 90-day public review period for proposed agreements to update the way the Great Lakes and the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are managed and protected.

Annex 2001 to the Great Lakes Charter of 1985 was signed on June 18, 2001 by all 10 of the Great Lakes governors and premiers. The agreement commits them to develop a new decision-making standard, a new set of binding agreements, a new decision support system and a public participation program, and calls for improved sources and applications of scientific information, including the role of ground water.

Rendell made the announcement at a meeting of the National Governors' Association in Seattle, in conjunction with other members of the Council of Great Lakes Governors. The Council includes the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as the premiers of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

The draft protective measures, referred to as the Great Lakes Charter Annex 2001 Implementing Agreements, are the result of three years of efforts by the governors' and premiers' staffs to address Great Lakes Basin protection issues ranging from water consumption and diversions to return flow, resource improvement and water conservation. The Great Lakes Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, which will be agreed to by all 10 parties, contains the Decision-Making Standard and Procedures Manual. The eight Great Lakes states would create the Great Lakes Basin Water Resources Compact.

"This process has involved Great Lakes experts in governance, environment, shipping, industry, business, agriculture, recreation and other interests essential to the environmental and economic prosperity of the Great Lakes Basin," said Rendell. "Now, however, it is time for all people who share an interest in the Great Lakes to have input. Public comments help ensure that the final product reflects the needs of everyone who uses and depends on this critical resource."

Protective measures in the draft implementing agreements include:

  • Conservation and information programs to be put in place and maintained in all the Great Lakes States, Ontario and Quebec.
  • A uniform, resource-based decision-making standard to be used in evaluating future proposals for new or increased water uses.
  • A collective decision-making process for future proposals for regionally significant new or increased water uses.
  • A requirement that all future new or increased diversions and regionally significant water uses in the Great Lakes Basin must result in an improvement to the Basin's ecosystem.

The public review and comment period runs through Oct. 18. During this time, the draft agreements will be available through the Council of Great Lakes Governors' Web site at

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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