Skip to content

UPDATE: Waterkeeper Alliance sees Great Lakes as a Shared Commons and Public Trust

At their annual meeting in the United States last month, the Waterkeeper Alliance adopted a resolution expressing their support for “the principle of water as a public trust resource” and for “a Declaration from the International Joint Commission that the Great Lakes Boundary Waters are a Shared Commons and Public Trust.”

Waterkeeper Alliance Board of Directors member/ Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Mark Mattson – who has been a part of the ‘Great Lakes Need Great Friends’ tour in Toronto, Hamilton and Kingston (tonight) – brought this resolution forward to the organization’s Board, which is chaired by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Mark Mattson   Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

As noted on their website, “Founded in 1999 by environmental attorney and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and several veteran Waterkeeper Organizations, Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement of on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect over 100,000 miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. …Waterkeeper Organizations defend their communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water—from law-breaking polluters to unresponsive government agencies. Made up of more than 190 local Waterkeeper organizations – employing more than 400 full-time and 200 part-time environmental activists, educators, scientists and attorneys—Waterkeeper Alliance keeps Waterkeepers connected, provides them with legal, scientific and communications support, and unites their voices as they take on major global water issues together.”

The ten Waterkeepers with a responsibility to protect the Great Lakes include: Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper (Buffalo, NY); Detroit Riverkeeper (Trenton, MI); Georgian Baykeeper (Toronto, ON); Grand Traverse Baykeeper (Traverse City, MI); Lake Erie Waterkeeper (Oregon, OH); Lake Ontario Waterkeeper (Toronto, ON); Milwaukee Riverkeeper (Milwaukee, WI); St. Clair Channelkeeper (Harrison Township, MI); Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper (Clayton, NY); and Yellow Dog Riverkeeper (Big Bay, MI).

The full resolution adopted by the Waterkeeper Alliance states:

Resolution of the Board of Directors of the Waterkeeper Alliance – Water is a Public Trust Resource
Whereas, access to clean water is a fundamental right; and
Whereas, water is a public trust resource; and
Whereas, the Great Lakes represent 20% of the world’s surface freshwater and 95% of the surface freshwater in the United States and is only 1% renewable; and
Whereas, the Great Lakes Waterkeepers are dedicated stewards of a shared Great Lakes Commons.
Therefore, be it resolved by the board of the Waterkeeper Alliance that the Waterkeeper Alliance:
Supports the principle of water as a public trust resource; and
Supports and endorses the proposals for a Declaration from the International Joint Commission that the Great Lakes Boundary Waters are a Shared Commons and Public Trust.
Signed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Board President