WEBINAR: The Ethics of Sharing Great Lakes Water – April 17, 2024

With worsening water scarcity in the US and around the world, pressures to share Great Lakes water will grow.

The Great Lakes Compact allows water to be diverted outside of the watershed basin for “short-term humanitarian emergencies.” 

But what does this mean, and who defines it? What are the ethics of sharing water? Is it right, and under what conditions?

These questions are explored in a webinar hosted by FLOW featuring experts in environmental ethics and policy.

This webinar was recorded on April 17, 2024. Watch the recording:

Guest Speakers

Dr. Susan Chiblow
Dr. Susan (Sue) Bell Chiblow is Anishinaabe, born and raised in Garden River First Nation, Ontario. She has worked extensively with First Nation communities for the last 30 years in environmental related fields. She is an assistant professor at the University of Guelph in their new Bachelor of Indigenous Environmental Science and Practice program. Sue has been appointed as a Commissioner to the International Joint Commission.

Dr. Cameron Fioret
Cameron is on the Board of Directors of the Windsor, Ontario-based nonprofit Windsor of Change; and a Policy Analyst in the Government of Canada. Previously, he was a Policy Analyst in the Canada Water Agency, a Virtual Visiting Research Fellow at the United Nations University (UNU-CRIS), and a Visiting Scholar in the University of Michigan’s Water Center in the Graham Sustainability Institute. He completed his PhD at the University of Guelph under the supervision of Dr. Monique Deveaux, Canada Research Chair in Ethics and Global Social Change.

Dr. Caitlin Schroering
Dr. Schroering is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Studies at UNC Charlotte. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida, and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from Denison University. Her primary line of research is based on extensive fieldwork with two movements fighting against water privatization, one in Brazil and one in the United States. She is the author of Global Solidarities Against Water Grabbing: Without Water, We Have Nothing, forthcoming with Manchester University Press this September.

The discussion is moderated by FLOW senior policy advisor, Dave Dempsey. Dave is the author of Great Lakes For Sale, which provides historical context for the issue of Great Lakes diversions and chronicles the region’s internal wars over bottled water.

With thanks to:

This webinar is presented with sponsorship by the Barton J. Ingraham & Gail G. Ingraham Foundation.

15 comments on “WEBINAR: The Ethics of Sharing Great Lakes Water – April 17, 2024

  1. Alex G Simon, P.E. on

    Hopefully, you will be advocating for the total ban on removing water from the Great Lakes Basin. Let’s close the Chicago shipping canal.

  2. John sadowski on

    Great lakes water should be shared to a given level of water that would not hinder the lakes environmental system or surrounding ecologies.

    • Frank daul on

      Who is going to be unbiased to do that! Leave it as nature constructed it. It does not need to be diverted to grow lush green golf courses and lawns

  3. John Kulinski on

    I am sure in the near future billions will be spent on a pipeline from Chicago to California so the water in the Great lakes can be shared by states that are in need of fresh drinking water.

  4. JoAnne Beemon on

    A Water Bill of Rights for the People of the Great Lakes Basin
    1. Water is Life.
    2. Water has value. Water is more valuable than oil.
    3. Water in the Great Lakes Basin is finite and in balance. Water diverted out of the basin is gone forever, there is a net loss.
    4. The waters of the Great Lakes and the groundwater of the Great Lakes Basin are contiguous.
    5. Water belongs to the citizens, creatures and eco-systems of the Great Lakes Basin.
    6. Water is in continuous motion. Water moves through a hydrologic cycle, from lakes to the air to rain to the land to groundwater and runoff to streams and rivers, and back to lakes and seas.
    7. Water of the Great Lakes Basin cannot be privately owned. Water is not a “product”.
    8. All public and private interests shall take note. Water needs, outside the Great Lakes Basin, which are created by squandering water resources or diminishing water reservoirs or polluting water or by creating water dependant industry, farming and residential need, or created by growing populations, cannot be cited as constituting compelling need for Great Lakes Basin Water diversion.
    9. Anyone who diverts or takes or removes water from the Great Lakes Basin, takes the property of the people of the state and other citizens of the Great Lakes Basin. Any diversion of the water of the Great Lakes Basin from the Basin diminishes all life in the Basin.
    10. Any person or corporation that pollutes or diminishes the quality of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin is guilty of a trespass and destruction of public property. Pollution or diminishment of the water constitutes a taking.
    11. Water diversion or sale of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin for private profit constitutes a taking or theft from the people.
    12. The elected representatives of the state have a right and a responsibility to protect the citizens of the Great Lakes Basin by protecting the waters of the Great Lakes Basin from pollution, diversion or taking for profit.
    Respectfully submitted,
JoAnne Bier Beemon Joanne_Beemon@hotmail.com
Director Great Lakes Center for Public Policy

  5. Lu Thrushman on

    Sure hope that includes not letting Water companies take millions of gallons for the cost of a permit anymore! So they can sell it back to us😢

  6. John O'Neill on

    Thank you, JoAnne Beeman for posting the excellent Water Bill of Rights. We would clarify that residents do not own the water but have a responsibility to exercise stewardship over the waters for our shared benefit and the wellbeing of future generations. We are struck by two misuses of water:
    The first is the mass production of bottled water. The bottles are often exported out of the Great Lakes Basin and the plastic degrades into micro-plastics that are harmful to living organisms. See for example, https://www.usgs.gov/news/national-news-release/widespread-plastic-pollution-found-great-lakes-tributaries
    Second, the importation of Canadian oil through the Straights of Mackinac risks a catastrophic spill that will despoil the lakes for decades. A tunnel is no solution as the hydrocarbons pumped through Line 5 contribute to global warming.
    Water is a gift that we abuse at our peril.

  7. Tracy Dobson on

    Read about the death of the Aral Seal, a once vibrant large water body that was drained to irrigate Russian cotton. A true cautionary tale.

    We must not allow the waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes, this precious 20% of the world’s fresh water supply, to be taken out of the basin or polluted as is threatened by Line 5. We must stand together to protect this globally important life giving resource!

  8. George Garner on

    Could you imagine, if you would have been smart enough to have voted for a president that would have spent all that wasted unaccounted for money to the Ukraine on desalination plants on the California coast we wouldn’t have a water shortage that’s happening now.


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