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Barlow to speak at ‘Untrouble the Waters’ summit in Chicago

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

MENAFN.com reports, “Giving community leaders an equal voice alongside government officials and academic researchers, a historic summit next week will tackle lead poisoning, oil pipelines, budget cuts, and other threats to the Great Lakes region with the aim of transforming water policy.”

It then adds, “‘Untrouble the Waters’ is organized by The Freshwater Lab, an educational initiative based at the University of Illinois at Chicago that works to engage the public in freshwater issues. The Great Lakes – comprising Lakes Michigan, Erie, Huron, Ontario, and Superior – contain 21% of the world’s entire supply of surface freshwater, with 50 million people dependent on them as a freshwater resource.”

And the MENAFN.com article highlights, “The Freshwater Lab Summit will address a range of urgent water issues affecting communities across the Great Lakes basin, including water costs and the right to clean water regardless of race, wealth, or class; the threat of oil pipelines; the impact of lead pipes on freshwater delivery; and new models for enhancing water quality, human health, and everyday life. The summit will also devote an entire day to working group sessions, which will allow participants to identify and plan new initiatives that will be put into action in the summer of 2017.”

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

U.S. 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.