First Nations leaders and Great Lakes mayors seek stronger rules for water withdrawals
Mayors from Great Lakes cities have united with leaders from First Nations communities to criticize proposed new rules for approving Great Lakes water withdrawals.
The Anishinabek Nation, a political advocacy group representing 40 First Nations communities in Ontario, has joined forces with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, made up of mayors from the Great Lakes region. The groups are concerned about proposed new procedures for approving water withdrawal requests under the Great Lakes Compact, the agreement governing the removal of water from the Great Lakes basin.
A joint statement released by the Anishinabek Nation and the mayors says the rules don't do enough to involve the public in decision-making or to require follow-up monitoring on withdrawals.
Glen Hare, the Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation, says other attempts by First Nations leaders to influence the rules have "gone nowhere."
“We’ve tried numerous times as leaders, as chiefs, to be included in some major decisions that happen that affect our communities, but more importantly our lives,” he says.
The groups also say that newly-elected officials haven't had enough time to review the rules. The Great Lakes Compact Council, made up of Great Lakes governors and premiers, is set to decide on the new rules in early December.
In 2017, the mayors' group dropped their lawsuit challenging the approval of a water diversion for the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin. They settled on the condition that they could work with the Compact Council to review the process for considering water withdrawals in the future.