The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today about the current state of "The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.” The Compact will help prevent cities, states, or anyone outside a defined Great Lakes watershed area from diverting or draining away the waters of the Great Lakes.
With heavy drought in the southeastern portions of the US in the past year, it’s easy to see these same states salivate at the possibilities of taking Great Lakes water to solve their own water problems.
My opinion is that if they want Great Lakes water, they need to move back to the Great Lakes region. It’s funny how some people have fled what they consider bad weather, or a bad environment, for more temperate climates, and then are shocked to find out that those climates have problems of their own. Some of the problems they are experiencing could be due to lack of rainfall, but they can also be attributed to misuse or overuse of the water resources they have available in their own area, or even due to over development.
To allow people not living in the Great Lakes region to divert water away from the Great Lakes would be irresponsible in the long term. If these states that take water out of the Great Lakes watershed never replenish the water, then lake levels could be affected. This could not only affect the ecosystem, but also the shipping trade and other industry. Lake Erie is already too shallow that it cannot afford to lose more water. Currently, communities that live within the watershed return the water used to the basin via other sources such as rain runoff. The exceptions are Chicago, IL, where the Chicago River was reversed to drain away from the lake more than 100 years ago (and returns none), and Akron, OH, which takes water out of the Cuyahoga River that feeds the lake, but returns the water from other sources.
Part of the delay in the states of Ohio and Wisconsin ratifying the compact have to do with a few Ohio officials who are concerned that the wording of the compact would mean that people would lose their rights to ground water, wells or aquifers, on their property. Apparently this concern has been discounted by many others who have already approved the compact plus other parties involved, so Ohio needs to get with it and approve the compact NOW.
This is not a matter of selfishness. The Great Lakes are a priceless natural resource and should not fall victim to the whims of people who have made the choice to leave the area. My feeling is that if the area in which they live is drought ridden and they can’t solve their own water problems, then they are welcome to come back to the Great Lakes area. It would be nice to have businesses and people return, finally appreciating what they have here, and finally giving back to the region that sustains them.
So for those of you needing water in drought-ridden climates – I suggest you start either looking into desalinization plants to convert ocean water, or start packing for your move here.
Here’s a presentation explaining the Great Lakes Water Compact.
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