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Barlow to highlight threats to the Great Lakes at summit in Chicago, May 10-11

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be speaking at the ‘Untrouble the Waters’ summit at the University of Illinois on May 10-11.

As noted in the promotion for the summit, “Various concerns impacting the Great Lakes region will be the focus when government officials, researchers and community leaders from the U.S. and Canada convene at ‘Untrouble the Waters’, a summit organized by The Freshwater Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Panels and working groups will address critical issues impacting the Great Lakes region, such as lead poisoning, oil pipelines, budget cuts, clean water access and environmental protection. Speakers include Maude Barlow, national chairperson for the Council of Canadians.”

The Council of Canadians has identified numerous threats to the Great Lakes including:

1- Nuclear waste

We are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject a plan to bury 200,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste near Lake Huron. In February 2016, federal environment minister Catherine McKenna delayed a decision on whether to approve the Ontario Power Generation’s proposed deep geologic repository. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is now reviewing a report by the provincial Crown corporation which argues for the nuclear waste site. The federal agency is expected to make its recommendation to the minister this coming September.

2- Waukesha diversion

We are also opposed to the plan to divert 31 million litres of water a day from Lake Michigan and transport it via pipeline outside the boundaries of the Great Lakes basin to Waukesha, Wisconsin. In May 2016, representatives of the US states in the basin area along with Ontario and Quebec gave conditional approval to Waukesha’s request to divert lake water under the Great Lakes Compact. The Toronto Star has commented, “Saying yes to Waukesha is one thing, but who asks next? Las Vegas?” It is believed that water will begin being pumped from Lake Michigan to Waukesha around June 2018.

3- Lack of funding

US President Donald Trump plans to slash the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative — that helps fund the cleaning up the Great Lakes — by 97 per cent (from US$300 million to $10 million annually) next year. Since 2009, this initiative has allocated $1.3 billion toward the clean-up of the lakes (which are the source of drinking water for more than 40 million people). The Council of Canadians has called for a $500 million federal budget allocation in this country to implement a Great Lakes Action Plan that would establish a framework for local decision-making, clean up areas of concern, control invasive species, and create an inventory of pollutants. The March 2017 federal budget failed to do this.

To read Barlow’s 40-page report Our Great Lakes Commons: A People’s Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever, please click here.