Great Lakes Compact Spurs Growing Number Of Rules
By Sara Jerome
The Great Lakes states are making serious efforts to prevent anyone from stealing too much from their waters in an effort to fulfill an international compact.
For instance, new rules are under consideration in Indiana. "Users withdrawing water from the Lake Michigan basin may be required to comply with conservation and efficiency rules beginning in mid-2014," according to The Times of Northwest Indiana. A temporary rule is already in place, and depending on an ongoing rulemaking process, it may officially hit the books next year.
The effort is part of Indiana's effort to uphold its responsibilities under The Great Lakes Compact, "an agreement established in 2008 between the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces regulating movement of water outside of the Great Lakes basin."
In another example of rules spurred by the compact, a town in Wisconsin must file for a permit to remove water from Lake Michigan. Waukesha is looking for 10 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan because its wells contain radium. That's "a pittance," The Echo commentary said, "but since it’s outside the Great Lakes basin it needs approval from all of the states in the region."
Because of The Great Lakes Compact, Waukesha may have an uphill battle. Under the compact, water taken from the Great Lakes must be treated and returned. "The issue is less about the quantity of water than setting a precedent under the Great Lakes Compact. That means Waukesha must jump through hoops to have even a chance at Lake Michigan water," The Echo said.
The rules can create some cumbersome compliance costs. Because the Compact ensures water diverted from the Great Lakes is returned and treated, users have had to find interesting ways to transfer the water.
When water was taken from Lake Superior to test a crude oil pipe line for leaks, returning water back to the lake became a massive trucking endeavor.
"Large tanker trucks began rumbling through" residential neighborhoods "to empty 29 million gallons of water," The Times of Northwest Indiana recently said in a separate piece. The project consists of "68 trucks a day, seven days a week for about 30 days."
Other options were considered to get the water "to a treatment facility in Northwest Indiana so it could be pumped back into Lake Michigan," the report said. “After working with the state, it was decided we had to truck the water out,” an official said. “The trucks are making big circles, 24/7. We have some very tight deadlines to finish the test.”
Preserving water in the lakes is a hot button political issue for locals. "We are very territorial when it comes to keeping Great Lakes water in the region. A mention of 'diverting water' raises eyebrows and begs questions. It’s ours, hands off! Where is the water going? Why?" said a commentary in The Great Lakes Echo.
For previous Water Online coverage about The Great Lakes, click here.
Image credit: "Great Lake Huron," © 2010 Jimmy Brown, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en