Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Groups Push For Great Lakes Commons & Public Trust Status

Oct 12: Flow for Water, a coalition of several national and state organizations, Council of Canadians, and On the Commons are presenting their proposals at the at the International Joint Commission's (IJC) Biennial Meeting being held in Detroit at Great Lakes Week regarding overarching principles for integrating water pollution concerns from the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with the Boundary Water Treaty's treatment of flows, levels, and quantities. They said this is one step in the campaign to address the need for providing lasting protection of our waters in the form of a public trust.

    According to a release, a Great Lakes Basin commons would reject the view that the primary function of the Great Lakes is to promote the interests of industry and give them preferential access to the Lakes' boundaries. Jim Olson, a leading U.S. water law expert and Chair of Flow for Water said, "We need overarching twenty-first century principles to address massive twenty-first century threats that transcend an obsolete twentieth century legal framework. The International Joint Commission took the lead when it addressed pockets of pollution in its landmark 1972 Water Quality Agreement. It can take the lead again by looking to adopt a broad framework of principles, like commons and the public trust, which will assure rights of shared use and duties of shared respect for the Great Lakes for generations to come."
    As part of the overall effort to save the Great Lakes from the myriad threats from the past and this century, the groups are asking that the IJC to consider the Great Lakes a commons and public trust and in doing so, acknowledge the threats facing the Great Lakes and its ecosystem and take steps to reenvision the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as was done when it was enacted as a landmark step in 1972. They said, "The public trust principles are about a broader picture for the health of our waters and citizens and the IJC has an opportunity to acknowledge that."
    Access a posted release from the organizations (click here). Access the Flow for Water website for background and more information (click here).