Dear Governor Dayton: Protect the Great Lakes

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MEP’s Northeast Coordinator, Andrew Slade, writes the following fictitious letter to Governor Dayton explaining why he should reject Waukesha’s bid to withdraw water from Lake Michigan. 

Under the Great Lakes Compact, all diversions of Great Lakes water are banned.  An exemption to this ban may be requested only if the community has shown a need for water, and it lacks a viable, safe and sustainable water supply. 

Dear Governor Dayton,

Greetings from Duluth and the snowy shores of Lake Superior. I want to tell you what a treat it is to live and work here by this greatest of the Great Lakes. They say the human body is three-quarters water. After living here for nearly 30 years and drinking a lot of tap water from Lake Superior, I’m probably half Lake Superior myself.

I want to let you know that I hope you will vote against the proposed diversion of water from Lake Michigan to Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Here’s why I think you should vote against that diversion:

First, they don’t need the water. If they would only treat their water for radium like 40 other cities in southeast Wisconsin, their water problems would be solved. The Compact is important and it’s working. If you look at the details of Waukesha’s application, it’s clear that it doesn’t meet the Compact’s requirements for an exemption.

Second, the Compact got its start here on Lake Superior. Back in 1998, the Nova Group actually got a permit from Ontario to load Lake Superior water into tankers and take it to China. There was a gap in our water protection rules, and no way to stop that kind of water withdrawal. So the states and provinces worked together to fix that gap and to protect our shared resources. If there’s ever going to be a major diversion request from the arid lands west of here, they’re going to come for the nearest and cleanest water: Lake Superior again.

Third, we Duluthians have a great track record of taking care of Lake Superior. We’ve built sewage overflow tanks, fixed muddy streams and even banned mercury thermometers. We love the lake, and our whole city shares the views, the free summer air conditioning and the drinking water.

I look out of my office windows and see ten percent of the world’s surface fresh water. I’m proud of all we’ve done to protect it. I hope you will take a hard look at the Waukesha diversion proposal and return it back to the sender. If there’s ever going to be an exemption under the Compact, we have to do it right. The Waukesha proposal isn’t right. Governor Pawlenty was the first governor to sign the Great Lakes Compact. I’m hoping you will be among the first governors to uphold and defend it.

Andrew Slade


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