Waukesha, Wisconsin is the very first U.S. city to obtain approval to divert water from the Great Lakes, and this precedent-setting demand is raising concern in Canada and the United States alike.
The city of 70,000's aquifer is running low and the water is contaminated with high levels of naturally occurring, cancer-causing radium. They will be drawing 31 million litres daily from Lake Michigan.
After "input" from Ontario and Quebec, 8 states adjacent the great lakes provided unaimous approval to Waukesha's $207-million proposal in a conference on Tuesday.
Michigan Govener Rick Snyder commented on the concern, stating "Ballot yes in co-operation with our Excellent Lakes neighbours is the best method to save one of our greatest natural resources. Mandating strict conditions for withdrawing and returning the water sets a strong precedent for safeguarding the Excellent Lakes."
What makes this choice hazardous is that "Waukesha has actually learnt about elevated radium levels in their water system for years and cannot act," stated members of the ecological group Sierra Club in an interview with the CBC.
While taxpayers in Canada strive (and pay taxes!) to protect their water supply, this decision suggests that the growing water contamination problem-- which has actually resulted not from shortage of water, however from failures on behalf of U.S. federal governments at a state level-- is now a Canadian issue.
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