Working Together To Protect The Great Lakes
Premier Signs Historic Agreement In Milwaukee To Ban Diversions, Promote Conservation
QUEEN'S PARK -- The McGuinty government is strengthening protection of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin waters by signing a historic agreement with Quebec and the eight Great Lakes states, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced today.
"Ten different governments in two separate countries are giving voice to their shared desire to protect one of the continent's most precious natural resources," said the Premier. "Our signatures here today mean that Great Lakes water will stay in the Great Lakes for the benefit of all."
Premier McGuinty joined Quebec and the eight Great Lakes states in signing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement at the annual meeting of the Council of Great Lakes Governors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the same meeting, the Great Lakes states -- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- signed a binding compact among themselves with similar terms.
Portions of the agreements are effective immediately. Others will be phased in over time.
"We have achieved a virtual ban on diversions that is stronger than the one consulted on this summer," said Ramsay in Toronto. "This agreement also strengthens conservation measures and increases the role of science in decision-making."
"We believe the current agreement represents a significant accomplishment on behalf of all parties and should be signed by Ontario," said Rick Findlay, Director of the Water Program at Pollution Probe and member of Ontario's Annex Advisory Panel.
Ontario is already a leader in implementing some of the most rigorous regulations to protect the basin waters.
"We listened carefully to the views of stakeholders, First Nations and the public who wanted 'no diversions' in the final Great Lakes Charter Annex agreements," said Ramsay. "These were difficult negotiations that required some movement from all 10 jurisdictions. I am proud that Ontario fought hard to protect the province's interests in the waters of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin ."
"This is a big step forward for those of us who believe in working together to make the Great Lakes region stronger, healthier and more prosperous -- on both sides of the border," said the Premier.
The final Great Lakes Charter Annex agreements can be viewed at www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/water/greatlakes/.