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Some 40 million people living in the Great Lakes drainage basin rely on the lakes for drinking water.
A one-time gift from the glaciers, the Great Lakes form the largest surface freshwater system on earth -- a vast but largely non-renewable resource. As the pressure on fresh water mounts around the world, the Alliance is working to ensure that these waters are maintained and protected.
The landmark Great Lakes Compact is now the law of the lakes -- an eight-state pact for managing the waters of the Great Lakes. Photo: Lloyd DeGrane
Annex 2001: In 2001 the Great Lakes governors and Canadian premiers agreed to develop new protections that would prevent harmful water withdrawals and diversions of Great Lakes waters. The Great Lakes Charter Annex, or Annex 2001, laid the groundwork for today's historic Great Lakes Water Resources Compact.
1986 Water Resources Development Act: The act gives veto power to the governors of each of the eight Great Lakes states to block any export or diversion of Great Lakes water outside the basin. Reauthorized in 2000, the act further encourages the states to work with the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec to devise and implement a “common conservation standard” for decisions about Great Lakes basin water use and withdrawals.
1985 Great Lakes Charter: A non-binding, voluntary agreement through which Great Lakes states and provinces agree to cooperatively manage the waters of the Great Lakes. Among the goals: establishing programs to manage and regulate diversions and consumptive uses of Great Lakes water; and seeking agreement from one another when considering a new or increased diversion or consumptive use of 5 million gallons of water per day or more.
1909 Boundary Waters Treaty: A U.S.-Canadian treaty to deal with water flow and water quality matters for all shared waters lying along or flowing across the International Boundary. The treaty established the International Joint Commission (IJC) to oversee disputes, requiring commission review and approval of diversions that would “affect the lakes' natural flow or level,” or interfere with domestic uses, boating and navigation.
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