Landmark Wisconsin diversion of Great Lakes water is both praised and blasted

By Sarah Coefield,
Great Lakes Echo
May 22, 2009
A Great Lakes water diversion to replace a Wisconsin city’s radium-contaminated wells has been both hailed as a responsible application of new water use regulations and blasted as unwarranted and precipitous. New Berlin is the first city with residents outside of the Great Lakes basin to receive water under the latest version of the Great Lakes Compact, a federal agreement approved by bordering states and ratified by Congress in 2008. The diversion was approved Thursday by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Because New Berlin is both inside and outside of the basin — the land that drains to the Great Lakes – Wisconsin had sole discretion in approving the city’s application.  Cities completely outside the basin must receive approval from all the Great Lakes states. Under Wisconsin’s conservation standards, New Berlin will return all the water it withdraws from Lake Michigan and also contribute local water to the lake.  That net gain for Lake Michigan represents a successful application of the Great Lakes Compact, Andy Buchsbaum, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes region, said Friday.

Potential water raids unite Great Lakes states; adequacy of protection questioned

Matthew Cimitile

Once seen as a region of endless water, the Great Lakes watershed is under stress thanks to inadequate water management, unrestrained growth and other pressures. Climate change stands only to make conditions worse, experts say, as increasingly thirsty neighbors look for additional water and changing weather harms quality and supply. Out of such gloom, however, has emerged what analysts describe as a most significant feat: Earlier this year, after almost a decade of talks, local and state leaders throughout the Great Lakes set aside differences and agreed to coordinate the protection of this vast but finite resource. The Great Lakes Compact, signed into law in October, controls transportation of Great Lakes water to parched areas outside the region. Thrust for this regional resolution came via fears of a 1998 plan by a Canadian firm to transport tankers of Lake Superior water to arid parts of Asia.