UB expert urges caution on Great Lakes water diversion plan

University of Buffalo News Center, April 11, 2016
Author: Cory Nealon

A plan in Wisconsin to divert drinking water outside of the Great Lakes basin appears sound, but it could set a dangerous precedent, says Joseph F. Atkinson, director of the Great Lakes Program at the University at Buffalo.

The lakes contain about 6 quadrillion gallons of water, or roughly 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, a 2008 agreement signed by eight Great Lakes states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, prevents the siphoning of water outside the basin. But the compact allows communities in so-called “straddling counties” – those which are partially located within the basin – to apply for a water diversion permit.