Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope said an agreement to review and strengthen the process by which communities from outside the traditional Great Lakes area can divert water will help ensure that the resource is used in a fashion which will ensure its long-term sustainability.
Mayor Hope is a member of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (Cities Initiative) which opposed a US-based decision last year to divert up to 8.2 million gallons per day for the use of Waukesha, Wisconsin, a city of 70,000 whose water supply is contaminated.
The Cities Initiative ultimately agreed to the diversion (which calls for treated water to be returned to Lake Michigan) in combination with what it calls “a rigorous review” of the process for considering diversions, with extensive stakeholder involvement in determining formal rules and revised guidelines for the future.
“The mayors and other officials on both sides of the border were concerned about opening up the Great Lakes as a water supply source for large parts of the American Midwest,” Hope said. “We will be reviewing the process to ensure this doesn’t happen and we maintain the level and quality of the Great Lakes.”
Hope said the Great Lakes comprise more than 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water supply and depletion of the resource would bring the North American economy to a halt.
“This is not a backyard pool where you can simply fill it back up if it gets low,” he said. “We’re dealing with a huge and complex ecosystem. We intend to protect it from any exploitation or misuse.”
The agreement includes review of many aspects of the process for evaluating applications for diversion, including the public engagement process, development of the record to support any decisions made by the Compact Council and Regional Body, public hearings in Canada and the United States, consideration of new information that becomes available during the process, changes in the application while under consideration, and much more.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of 131 U.S. and Canadian cities and mayors representing over 17 million people committed to the long term protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
For more information contact:
Mayor Randy Hope
519-360-1998 X 3001
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
519-360-1998 x 3624