Expert Warns Great Lakes Compact Is a ‘Terrible Idea’

Published April 11, 2008

(Chicago, IL – April 11, 2008) Legislative opponents to a plan that would surrender control of Great Lakes water planning to a regional commission ceased their dissent earlier this week. That clears the way later this year for Wisconsin and Ohio legislatures to sign the Great Lakes Compact, which supporters say will protect water resources in the region.

However, a leading specialist in water-resource planning, Jay Lehr, Ph.D., science director for The Heartland Institute, warns the compact “is a terrible idea for the average citizen of the eight Great Lakes states, and is of no significant benefit to the wondrous Great Lakes ecosystem.”

Lehr notes that the compact as approved by four of the eight Great Lakes states and the Province of Ontario “unconstitutionally trumps state law.” Today, the Great Lakes states have the authority to pre-empt the diversion of water from the Great Lakes to other areas, primarily the Southwest. A new Great Lakes Commission would take over that responsibility if the compact is approved by the Great Lakes states and Congress.

“The compact will force the Great Lakes states to behave as if they were surrounded by desert instead of abundant water resources,” Lehr said. “It will limit the ability of farmers and other producers in the region to irrigate their crops, run their factories, and operate their businesses, and thus undermine these hugely important parts of their states’ economies.

“Additionally, the agreement allows single-entity control regarding quantity and methods of water use, forcing some states to sacrifice their water resources to another state far outside the region.

“And the compact would expand jurisdiction by an unelected body to all water, regardless of physical location, placing private-property rights in the cross-hairs of command-and-control regulators.”

You may quote from this statement or contact Dr. Lehr directly for further comment. He can be reached at [email protected], phone (740) 368-9393.