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Great Lakes Bill to Make a Splash With State Lawmakers

May 14, 2008

Madison, WI – A vote is expected today in the Wisconsin legislature on the Great Lakes Compact, a multi-state agreement, long in the works, to protect the waters in the Great Lakes Basin.

Anne Sayers with the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters says the plan gives strong protections to the lakes, and is good news for Wisconsinites who rely on them for recreation, jobs, and drinking water.

"The Great Lakes Compact will prevent, with very limited exceptions, other states and countries from diverting water outside of the Great Lakes basin. It also puts into place some measures for water conservation, and for monitoring and measuring of how we use water within the basin."

Sayers says thousands of Wisconsinites have gotten involved in this issue, and they've been waiting a long time for this vote.

"This Great Lakes Compact vote is absolutely historic; it has been seven years in the making, so this is a huge victory for all Wisconsin citizens who value fishing, swimming, hunting, or boating along the shores or on our lakes."

One sticking point in the bill was the ability of communities near the lakes to get access to water from them. Sayers says the final version will give those communities a fair shot at making their case for such access.

"It is going to be easier for communities looking for water to apply for it. They can demonstrate why they need water and give the other states the ability to weigh that on fair grounds."

She says after months of negotiation, the Great Lakes bill is likely to pass by a large margin.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WI