Dear Great Lakes Governors:
We write to you today to express our concern over the preliminary approval by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Regional Body for the application by Waukesha, Wisconsin to divert 8.2 million gallons of water per day from the Great Lakes. When the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Governors' Compact Council) meets next month for the final determination of this application, we strongly urge you to vote against this proposal and vote in favor of protecting and preserving our Great Lakes.
As you know, the Great Lakes Compact is a legally binding agreement among the eight Great Lakes states that sets parameters and restrictions governing the management of the Great Lakes. It establishes responsible standards for water use and conservation in the basin. The Compact was adopted in 2008 after bipartisan efforts at the state and federal levels of government. It has been the catalyst for significant improvements to the management and conservation of the Lakes' water supply.
Earlier this year, the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin submitted a request to divert water from Lake Michigan. The Compact allows for water diversion to communities within the basin but only under rare and strict conditions. We do not believe the city of Waukesha has made a compelling case that satisfies the severe circumstances outlined in the Compact for its requested diversion of 8.2 million gallons of water per day.
One of Waukesha's arguments for requiring this water is that there are high levels of radium and other contaminants in the groundwater supply and the only source for clean water for its residents is Lake Michigan. However, we believe that Waukesha has not exhausted all of its options for providing safe and clean water to its residents. Diverting water from the Great Lakes should be a last resort only employed when every other means possible has been exhausted.
Former Ohio Governor Bob Taft recently penned an op-ed outlining his concerns on Waukesha's application and the greater impact it has on water security. As a chief executive and someone who had to make difficult choices like the one that is presented before you today, Gov. Taft does not believe Waukesha has satisfied the conditions that he fought for during the development of the Compact. A governor's day-to-day decision-making focuses on what is in the best interest of his state. The governors of the Great Lakes states are in a different situation because our economies and livelihoods are so intertwined. Here, we ask that you look at the Waukesha water diversion request in the prism of what is in the best interest of the Great Lakes.
While we do believe that Michigan has the most to lose from the approval of this diversion request, our opposition does not come from a parochial perspective; rather, it comes from a more holistic concern of the health of the Great Lakes and the welfare of all those who rely on them for their livelihood. Waukesha's diversion request is the first of its kind for the Compact, but it will certainly not be the last attempt to test the Compact. Any approval of diversion from our Lakes must meet the highest standards so we do not unknowingly set a precedent that will haunt us years from now.
This request from Waukesha is precedent-setting. We firmly believe the approval of this request would threaten the precious, finite resources provided by our Lakes. It takes all eight governors to approve the request for diversion. We ask that you use your vote to deny this request and protect all the Great Lakes states and their people.