Great Lakes Agreement and Compact

In 2005, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers signed the Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement.  At the same time, the Governors endorsed the companion Great Lakes—St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact which became law in 2008.  

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact

These accords, developed through the Council of Great Lakes Governors, detail how the States and Provinces will manage and protect the Basin and provide a framework for each State and Province to enact measures for its protection.

The Agreement and Compact include the following points:

  • Economic development will be fostered through sustainable use and responsible management of Basin waters.
  • In general, there is a ban on new diversions of water from the Basin but limited exceptions could be allowed in communities near the Basin when rigorous standards are met.   
  • Communities that apply for an exception have a clear, predictable decision making process; standards to be met; and, opportunities to appeal decisions. 
  • The States and Provinces will use a consistent standard to review proposed uses of Basin water.  The States and Provinces have flexibility regarding their water management programs and how to apply this standard.   
  • Regional goals and objectives for water conservation and efficiency have been developed, and they will be reviewed every five years.  Each State and Province will develop and implement a water conservation and efficiency program that may be voluntary or mandatory.
  • There is a strong commitment to continued public involvement in the implementation of the Agreement.
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