All About the Water

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The governors of the Great Lakes states recently approved a request by a Wisconsin city to draw water from Lake Michigan after its existing water supply dried up. But because the city isn’t in the watershed of the Great Lakes, the two Canadian provinces that share Great Lakes water rights say the request should be denied.

Waukesha, Wisconsin will be allowed to tap Lake Michigan for up to 8.2 million gallons per day once it completes a $207 million pipeline project that would draw in lake water and return fully-treated wastewater.

Delegates for the governors of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York gave their unanimous consent to the first formal request to divert water outside the Great Lakes basin during a meeting of the compact council.

The 2008 compact prohibits water from being sent outside the basin watershed. Communities like Waukesha, located over the line but within a straddling county, can apply under a limited exception.

The eight governors approved the request over the objection of widespread opposition. Mayors, legislators, policy-makers and citizens around the Great Lakes have worried about the precedent Waukesha’s application represented.

Waukesha is under a court-ordered deadline to provide safe drinking water by mid-2018. The city draws most of its water from a deep aquifer that is contaminated with unsafe levels of radium, a naturally occurring carcinogen. The city has a population of about 70,000 people.

Kiplinger warns that more water conflicts will flare up, citing California, India, South Africa and the Middle East among the likely areas of dispute.

Asian Carp Forums to be Held Around State

You've likely seen the videos of people driving boats down the Mississippi River and other systems as large fish fly into and around the boat. While it makes for amusing video, the introduction of Asian carp into the ecosystem is a concern for many.

The Indiana Catfish Conservation Assocation recently posted the following notice, and the Indiana Chamber is happy to be involved with these education forums:

The Indiana Wildlife Federation in partnership with the Little River Wetland Project, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Indiana Forum, Inc. announce three educational forums to be held this fall.

The meetings will cover the progress of control efforts to keep Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species out of the Great Lakes. The forums will also provide background information in preparation for the Army Corp of Engineers report expected to publish in January, 2014, which will present alter-natives for stopping Asian carp and all aquatic invasive species transfers between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basins.

All stakeholders and the public are invited to attend.

Registration is not required.

Email info@indianawildife.org or call 317-875-9453 or 800-347-3445 for more information.

November 6, 2013 – PORTAGE
3:00-4:45 pm CST
Northwest Indiana
Forum, Inc.
6100 Southport Road
Portage, IN 46368

November 14, 2013 – FORT WAYNE
6:30-8:30 pm EST
Allen Co.
Public Library
900 Library Plaza
Ft. Wayne, IN 46802

November 19, 2013 – INDIANAPOLIS
3:00-4:45 pm EST
IN Wildlife Federation
708 East Michigan St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Choose the Proper Course on Carp

Asian carp are a serious threat to the waterways of the Great Lakes, but the solution to their potential invasion must not create additional economic harm. 

The carp, which can weigh up to 100 pounds, are predators. They would threaten numerous fish species native to the area, the broader environmental balance and even boaters and tourists striving to enjoy recreational opportunities. Once positive contributors to helping remove algae from Southern fish ponds, they are now regarded as among the most dangerous of invasive species. 

One misguided attempt to deal with the risk is to close the navigational locks in the Chicago area. This would disrupt hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of shipping and essentially sever Northwest Indiana’s crucial water-based commerce with the rest of the world. 

Federal investment, in the form of additional electric barriers, would prove more effective in keeping the carp out of the Great Lakes while still allowing Indiana and the other states in the region to maintain the shipping prowess that benefits so many companies and their employees.

Washington is paying attention – as it should. The barrier plan emerged from a White House-led summit. Indiana and its neighbors must now work together to support this prudent alternative. The threat is real; a radical closure of shipping lanes and economic opportunity, however, is not the answer.

A new organization called Unlock Our Jobs has formed to tackle this issue, offering alternative options while keeping our waterways open for business. Its web site can also help you quantify the economic impact of river traffic and lock closures on your state.