Monday, March 17, 2008


Spitzer leaves and Paterson signs the compact...

Ye olde press release from the state of New York:

Governor Designate David A. Paterson today announced that legislation has been signed authorizing New York State to join the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Compact is a multi-state agreement designed to protect, conserve, and improve the water resources of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. The legislation was signed by Governor Spitzer on March 4, 2008.

“The Great Lakes and their bays and tributaries contain approximately 18 percent of the world’s supply of freshwater, and 90 percent of the United States’ supply of fresh surface water,” said Governor Designate Paterson. “Unfortunately, water levels in the Great Lakes have seen drastic declines in the last decade, and it is vitally important that we protect and conserve this essential water resource. The Great Lakes Compact demonstrates the commitment of all of the Great Lakes states to work together to achieve that goal.”

In 2001, the Governors of the eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec signed an agreement to develop and implement a new common, resource-based conservation standard for the Great Lakes Basin. After several years of negotiation, the Great Lakes Compact was developed.
The water surface area of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and connecting channels covers approximately 95,000 square miles in eight states and two Canadian provinces, and the drainage area of the Basin covers an additional 200,000 square miles. Since only about one percent of the water in the Great Lakes is renewed or replaced by rain and tributary inflow each year, a multi-state agreement regulating various withdrawals and diversions is an important step to preserving this natural resource.

Senator George Maziarz said: “Having New York State sign on to the historic Great Lakes Compact is critical to protecting our precious freshwater resources, particularly Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the St. Lawrence River, and their tributaries. Joining this multi-state and multi-province effort is the right thing to do for our environment, for our communities, and for our future.”

Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney said: “This legislation will protect the largest body of fresh water in the world. This historic agreement is designed to ensure protection of the waters of the Great Lakes, now and in perpetuity. Over 40 percent of our State lies within the Great Lakes Basin and this provides us with an important environmental resource and economic driver. The compact is designed as proactive legislation to shelter and preserve the Great Lakes.”

Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis said: “The Great Lakes are among America's greatest natural resources and they must be protected from excessive demands. The compact is an integral tool that will establish proper management practices and standards so that the benefits these waters provide will continue to be available for future generations.”

Derek Stack, Executive Director of Great Lakes United, said: “By signing the Compact, the State of New York tells its neighbors that protecting the waters of the Great Lakes is about protecting our future. Today, New York demonstrates that the spirit of cooperation between the Great Lakes states and provinces is thriving, and reaffirms the value of protecting the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem. Now we must work hard to ensure that the Compact moves swiftly to approval in those states where years of careful negotiation has been held hostage by narrow-minded political agendas.”

Dereth Glance, Executive Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said: “New York's unanimous support of the Great Lakes Compact builds the momentum necessary to secure the adoption of this historic document throughout the Basin. We applaud the State’s commitment to protect the future of this magnificent resource.”

Robert Moore, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York, said: “The magnificent waters of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River have provided New Yorkers with so much throughout our history, including unparalleled habitat for fish and wildlife and drinking water for millions of residents. Environmental Advocates of New York applauds the Administration, Senator Maziarz and Assemblyman Sweeney for their leadership on this historic measure. We urge Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan to ratify the agreed-upon language of the Compact and ensure that the Great Lakes will be managed for the benefit of the entire region.”

Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York, the state program of the National Audubon Society, said: “Protecting the water of the Great Lakes is critical for the long term restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem and for the revitalization of the upstate New York economy. The Great Lakes Compact will allow the region to maintain control of its waters as demand for fresh water continues to grow throughout the nation and worldwide. We commend the Administration, and the Senate and Assembly, especially Senator George Maziarz and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, for passing this important measure, and we hope the remaining states in the Basin will follow New York’s strong lead.”

The Compact would provide for:

- The creation of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council, consisting of the Governors of the eight Great Lakes states;
- The creation of a water resources inventory by each member state;
- Periodic assessments of cumulative impacts of water withdrawals from the Basin;
- A prohibition on most new and increased diversions of water from the Basin;
- Registration of water withdrawals in amounts of 100,000 gallons per day (gpd) or greater from the Basin in any 30-day period, and certain regulated diversions of Basin water;
- Implementation of water conservation and efficiency programs by each member state relating to Basin water uses;
- Commitments by member states to promote environmentally sound and economically feasible water conservation measures;
- Consultation between the Great Lakes Council and the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec through “regional review” procedures for any new or increased consumptive uses of at least 5 million gpd in any 90-day period; and
- Preservation of existing diversions, withdrawals, uses, rights and agreements.

In order for the Compact to take effect, each of the eight Great Lakes states must pass legislation ratifying the Compact, and then the United States Congress must consent to the signed Compact. New York is now the fourth state to approve the Compact, following approvals by Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.

The legislation authorizes the Governor to take steps to facilitate the execution of the Compact by the other Governors, and to apply to Congress for consent to the Compact. The legislation also authorizes Commissioner of Environmental Conservation Grannis to convene an advisory council to make recommendations for legislation, rules and regulations necessary to implement the Compact.

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