FLOW filed formal comments with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources this week on the importance of strict review of a number of Wisconsin towns outside the Great Lakes basin that want permission to divert water from Lake Michigan to replace contaminated water supplies for one town, but foster growth and development for the others. “The Great Lakes Compact diversion ban and exception for diversion of water to towns straddling the basin divide was not intended to grow towns and sprawl entirely outside the basin,” Jim Olson, President of FLOW, said. Everyone must insist on a very strict, narrow application of the exception for diverting water to straddling communities.”
The report and comments filed by FLOW demonstrate that there must be a real public need, no other alternatives, and no violation of the public trust in the Great Lakes that protects the water and public protected uses like boating and fishing in the Basin. The public trust in the Great Lakes limits diversion and use of water outside the basin for primarily non public trust and Great Lakes purposes. Growth and development outside the basin is not a protected public trust use. If these criteria are not carefully applied, the region could be in trouble because of a slippery slope that would open the door for diversions anywhere by undermining the hard-won justification for the diversion ban in the Compact.
“It’s a strong, defensible agreement, but we can’t interpret it carelessly,” Olson said.
View the full comments here.