Great Lakes Compact

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Great Lakes Compact
Great Seal of the United States
Long title Great Lakes--St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact
Enacted by the 110th United States Congress
Effective December 8, 2008
Public law 110-342
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S.J.Res 45[1] by Carl Levin on July 23, 2008
  • Passed the Senate on August 1, 2008 (unanimous consent)
  • Passed the House of Representatives on September 23, 2008 (390 yea, 25 nay, 18 not voting)
  • Signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008

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 serves as secretariat to the Governors' Compact Council created by the Compact, and now operates as the Conference of Great Lakes and Saint 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 exempt from certain provisions of the compact pertaining to new or increased withdrawals or diversions from the Great Lakes.[4]


In 2013, the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin applied for permission from the State of Wisconsin to withdraw water from Lake Michigan.[5] 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, Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, authorized Waukesha to withdraw water from Lake Michigan.


  1. ^ "Legislative record for S.J. Res 45". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  2. ^ "Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact Implementation". Council of Great Lakes Governors. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  3. ^ "IMPLEMENTATION", Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body, Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  4. ^ "Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact" (PDF). Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council. December 13, 2005. p. 33. Retrieved February 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ "City of Waukesha Water Diversion application". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-11-19. 
  6. ^ "City's Water Problems Test Great Lakes Agreement". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-11-19. 

External links[edit]