Canadian Government Urges Strict Protections for Waters of St. Lawrence Basin
Canada's federal government recently announced it had submitted a document to the Council of Great Lakes Governors (Chicago) urging its members to provide the same level of protection for waters of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence basin as the Canadian government already provides for the area.
The council comprises the governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ontario, and Quebec. The submission responds to the proposed Great Lakes Charter Annex, which would implement agreements now being negotiated among council members, according to a press statement issued by Environment Canada, the Canadian federal environmental protection agency.
Canadian law prohibits bulk transfers of boundary waters from the St. Lawrence basin, and the federal government is committed to maintaining the ban, according to the statement. However, the government feels the agreements being drafted for the Great Lakes Charter Annex fail to ensure this level of protection and should be strengthened, the statement said.
Rather than banning transfers, the draft agreements would establish "specific administrative procedures pertaining to managing proposals for new and increased diversions, withdrawals, and consumptive uses of water from the Great Lakes," the press statement noted.
The federal government's appeal to the council "makes clear the need for an ecosystem perspective to inform the management of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence basin and for decisions to be based on sound science, sustainable management, a precautionary approach, and ongoing public involvement," the statement said. "It also recognizes that the proposed agreements include positive elements that would improve management of water within the basin, such as requiring better data on existing and new withdrawals and consumptive uses of water."