Great Lakes Compact

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Great Lakes Compact
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleGreat Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact
Enacted bythe 110th United States Congress
EffectiveDecember 8, 2008
Public law110-342
Legislative history
Member states of the Great Lakes Compact

The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact is a legally binding interstate compact among the U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The compact details how the states manage the use of the Great Lakes Basin's water supply and builds on the 1985 Great Lakes Charter and its 2001 Annex. The compact is the means by which the states implement the governors' commitments under the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement that also includes the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec.

The Council of Great Lakes Governors, which guided the negotiations that resulted in the Compact, now serves as secretariat to the Governors' Compact Council created by the Compact, and now operates as the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers.


Following approval by each of the eight member state legislatures, the compact was signed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on February 20, 2007; Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on August 17, 2007; Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on February 20, 2008; New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer on March 4, 2008; Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle on May 27, 2008; Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland on June 27, 2008; Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell on July 4, 2008; and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on July 9, 2008.[2] The U.S. Senate passed the compact on August 1, 2008, and the U.S. House of Representatives followed on September 23, 2008. President George W. Bush signed it on October 3, 2008. The compact became state and federal law on December 8, 2008.[3]

Wisconsin v. Illinois United States Supreme Court case[edit]

Due to the United States Supreme Court ruling in Wisconsin v. Illinois, the State of Illinois is not subject to certain provisions of the compact pertaining to new or increased withdrawals or diversions from the Great Lakes.[4]

Waukesha Proposal[edit]

In 2013, the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin applied for permission from the State of Wisconsin to withdraw water from Lake Michigan.[5] City water historically drawn from an aquifer reached radium levels exceeding federal standards. After protest and later negotiation with state officials, Waukesha became obligated to find a new source of water by 2018. The city's limits lay 1.5 miles outside of the Lake Michigan drainage boundary; however the county in which it resides straddles both the Mississippi (via the Fox River, which runs through Waukesha) and Great Lakes watersheds.[6]

In 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) preliminarily determined that the proposal was approvable in its Draft Technical Review and also released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.[7] The public comment period on the Draft Technical Review and Draft Environmental Impact Statement ended on August 28, 2015.

On January 7, 2016, the DNR forwarded the submission to the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Water Resources Regional Body for review and the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Water Resources Council for review and decision.[8] Several environmental groups argued the proposal did not comply with Compact requirements and demanded a thorough review.[9] The application was approved with conditions by the Compact Council on June 21, 2016.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Legislative record for S.J. Res 45". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  2. ^ "Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact Implementation". Council of Great Lakes Governors. Archived from the original on 2010-06-26. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
  3. ^ "Implementation", Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body, Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  4. ^ "Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact" (PDF). Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council. December 13, 2005. p. 20. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 March 2019. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  5. ^ "City of Waukesha Water Diversion application". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-11-19.
  6. ^ Barrett, Joe (9 November 2009). "City's Water Problems Test Great Lakes Agreement". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-11-19.
  7. ^ "DRAFT Technical Review for the City of Waukesha's Proposed Diversion of Great Lakes Water for Public Water Supply with Return Flow to Lake Michigan" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources "City of Waukesha Water Diversion application."".
  9. ^ "Great Lakes panel starts review of Waukesha's water request".
  10. ^ "BizTimes Milwaukee "Waukesha's Great Lakes Request Approved"". Archived from the original on 2018-12-08.

External links[edit]