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Great Lakes Poll: Wisconsinites Want Strong Protections

January 22, 2008

Madison, WI – "Protect the Great Lakes, sign the Great Lakes Compact." That's the message in a new poll. The results, made public Monday by Wisconsin conservation groups, show overwhelming support in the state for protecting Great Lakes water.

Eighty percent of those surveyed support ratification by Wisconsin of the Great Lakes Compact. There was even greater support for specific parts of the Compact, including limits on selling and diverting Great Lakes water, and the need for water conservation in cities.

Denny Caneff, executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin, says the poll shows widespread concern about the lakes. Support for the Compact came from all political persuasions and all from parts of the state, not just those near Lakes Michigan and Superior.

"We had expected that people living along the Great Lakes would care more about that than someone living in La Crosse or Wausau. But by the poll results, it seems that concern for the Great Lakes is statewide, not simply limited to people who live along the Great Lakes."

Minnesota and Illinois have already ratified the compact. In fact, of the eight Great Lakes Compact states, Wisconsin is the only one without a proposed law before its state legislature. Caneff says he expects legislation to be introduced in Wisconsin before the end of the month.

People in Wisconsin are realizing the state's water is threatened, he adds, after years of declining levels in Lake Michigan. And there's more recent worrisome news.

"Lake Superior was dramatically lower last year, and there are some inland lakes that are drying up because of groundwater pumping and so forth. I think people are thinking, 'Gee, if the Great Lakes are getting smaller, we're in trouble!' There's been a regular drumbeat of disturbing news about water, and I think people want something done."

Poll information is at www.wisconsinrivers.org.

Rob Ferrett/John Robinson, Public News Service - WI