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Great Lakes Diversion Could Leave Wisconsin “High and Dry”

October 30, 2007

Green Bay, WI – Wisconsin should stop shivering on the shore and "jump right in" to protect Great Lakes waterways, according to a group of elected officials and conservationists. Today, they're calling on state lawmakers to approve a Great Lakes Compact, an agreement with seven other states to preserve the environment and conserve water.

Former Ashland mayor Fred Schnook, a Wisconsin representative on the Great Lakes Commission, says a top priority for the agreement is making sure Great Lakes water isn't diverted for use elsewhere in the country, because the lakes are a vital part of Wisconsin's manufacturing and agricultural economy.

"Passing a strong Great Lakes Compact will ensure that this water supply and corresponding manufacturing employment is around for our kids and our grandkids."

Schnook says other priorities include water conservation and closing a loophole that allows unregulated exports of bottled water from the Great Lakes. West Allis mayor Jeanette Bell agrees that preserving the lakes will help maintain Wisconsin's quality of life and boost economic development.

"There are water issues in many parts of the country which we've fortunately avoided, and I don't want us to end up having similar problems from being foolhardy in how we treat our Great Lakes."

Of the eight states that belong to the Great Lakes Commission, only Minnesota and Illinois have ratified the plan.

Rob Ferrett/John Robinson, Public News Service - WI