International Commission Advises Great Lakes States to Protect Against Future Diversions

WUWM, January 20, 2016
Author: Susan Bence

The International Joint Commission, or IJC, released that advice on Tuesday.

The U.S. and Canadian governments created the commission in 1909 to resolve disputes around “shared” waters.

The last time the International Joint Commission released a major report protecting the Great Lakes from diversions was in 2000.

At that time, the IJC called for guarding against “harmful water transfers” out of the basin and contributed to the formation of the Great Lakes Compact.

It allows Waukesha to request Lake Michigan water, because the city is located in a county that straddles the basin and has a serious water contamination problem.

“I think the public can feel secure and confident that the decision that is arrived at will be a sound one based on science and resource principals,” Dempsey said

That’s IJC policy advisor Dave Dempsey.

He says the agency won’t advocate for or against Waukesha’s request but is advocating that the Great Lakes states and provinces incorporate the public trust doctrine into their agreements.

The public trust doctrine maintains that most surface waters are held in trust for public use and enjoyment, and therefore, the government has a duty to protect the resource from any substantial impairment; in this case, diversion.