IJC needs to discuss water quantity and flow, as well as quality, says Island rep

Ontario, Quebec should be represented on water compact

SPRING BAY – A Spring Bay resident has presented his concerns to the International Joint Commission (IJC) that Ontario and Quebec should be part of the Great Lakes Compact and that future IJC meeting agendas include looking at water quantity and flow, not just water quality. 

“It looks to me like Ontario is getting screwed again,” stated Mike Wilton, a member of For Love of Water (FLOW) in response to a proposal by Waukesha, Wisconsin to take water out of the Great Lakes to enable a company based in Asia to open a business. Mr. Wilton wonders where Ontario is on this issue.
“I will be going to a meeting of the (IJC)  in Collingwood,” he told the Recorder early last week. “I assume the IJC will be telling us how wonderful things are in regards to water quality in the Great Lakes, but I’m about water quantity as well and I am concerned with the amount of water being diverted out of the Ogoki-Lake Nipigon.”

He pointed out that a memo submitted by FLOW points out that there is a Great Lakes Agreement and a Great Lakes Compact in place. “The Compact indicates only US governors are involved, while the Great Lakes Agreement includes US governors as well a representation from Ontario and Quebec.”

In his presentation to the IJC Great Lakes Agreement and Compact in Collingwood on August 6, Mr. Wilton said, “I would like to thank the committee for allowing me to speak regarding water volume (flow), in spite of the fact that this public meeting is intended for discussion of water quality only.”

“The Great Lakes Agreement and Great Lakes Compact are two separate but complementary documents intended to a) protect the quality of the Great Lakes Basin waters and b) protect the Great Lakes Basin from diversions that would export water to outside the Great Lakes Basin, respectively,” said Mr. Wilton. “The Great Lakes Agreement consists of representation from the provinces and states of Ontario, Quebec, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, while the Great Lakes Compact apparently consists of representation only by the aforementioned states, with no mention made of representation from Ontario or Quebec.”

“The fact that Ontario and Quebec are absent from the Great Lakes Compact is notable,” continued Mr. Wilton. “Recently the governor of Wisconsin granted immunity from the Great Lakes Compact to divert roughly seven million gallons of fresh water daily from Lake Michigan to Racine, Wisconsin, to supply fresh water to an electronics company from Taiwan for its daily operations. Since the diversion of seven million gallons daily of additional Great Lakes water to the Foxconn factory in Wisconsin will undoubtedly come from the Ogoki-Lake Nipigon diversion, and since Canada apparently is not part of the Great Lakes Compact, we (Canada) evidently have no say in the implementation of this additional diversion. Who can say whether this is an intentional or accidental breach of trust on the part of the US? Further, who can say whether or not Ontario is compliant with this breach, or simply dropped the ball during negotiations? It is certainly not right that such important decisions should rest solely with the US.”

“Further, the fact remains that the Hudson Bay Lowlands are being denied rightful natural flow from the Ogoki/Albany river system and now a further negative diversion/precedent has been established against those First Nations residing in the Albany River Basin. Each successive diversion will be more easily achieved based on precedents. Therefore, even a relatively minor diversion such as this, will assume major proportions for future diversions, owing to its historic precedent setting.”

Mr. Wilton requested the IJC “include Canada (i.e. Ontario and Quebec) as participating members of the Great Lakes Compact. I further request that future (IJC) public meetings set aside time on the agenda to discuss water quantity and flow. These meetings, up to this point, have been limited to discussion regarding only water quality.”

“The reaction was pretty good from the floor (on his presentation and request),” Mr. Wilton told the Recorder after his presentation. However, “the government people were defensive; I talked to other people on hand who said they can’t understand why only water quality and not water quantity as well are not discussed at these meetings.”